Velominati Super Prestige: Tour de France 2016

A lot has happened in the last ten years of le Tour, and a lot of it stemmed from the race that took place in 2006. At the time it seemed like yet another “Tour of Redemption” as the organisers liked to claim every few years after something had happened to tarnish the race’s image, yet again. In 06, we were coming off the back of a seven year reign of very little in the way of competition, with most of those races decided in the Prologue and followed by a three week procession. 06 was anticipated as the start of a new era, we just didn’t know at the time how significant it would become many years further down the track.

The pre-Tour build-up had fans frothing with anticipation of an Ullrich vs Basso battle, but that was scuppered at the 11th hour by Operacion Puerto, just what incoming Director Christian Prudhomme didn’t need. Also ditched were Fransisco Mancebo, a young Alberto Contador (yet to be considered a GC contender), and one Alexandre Vinokourov (while not one of the Puerto accused, still unable to start as most of his Astana teammates were pulled, leaving him without a sufficient team). With the two favourites out, the race was anyone’s for the taking. Of course, there was more drama to come.

A crazy break was let go and produced a surprise leader in Oscar Pereiro, who then conceded the yellow to Floyd Landis, who then blew to bits and handed it back to Pereiro, before making the biggest comeback since Lazarus the next day and riding away from the race in a solo effort that still ranks as one of the best ever, no matter how juiced he was. I remember watching the stage live and talking to a mate on the phone, and his incredulity at what we were witnessing. As Landis drank with the fervour of an alcoholic and manically poured water over his head during his escapade, my friend (an ex-road racer at a high level himself) professed that Landis was “cooking” from some sort of drug cocktail and was doing his best to dilute whatever concoction he’d taken, and not blow a positive or do a Tommy Simpson on live tv. How prophetic his words proved.

Of course, that was just the beginning, and the resulting fallout became one of the biggest sporting stories of all time. Landis just about brought down the entire sport with his revelations, and no Tour since has been without some form of scuttlebutt, yet not on that scale. The last few years, while tame by comparison to those preceding them, have been pretty well dominated by each winner and not offering too much in the way of exciting competition; although last year’s end result was closer on paper than the actual race was… which once again leaves us in the same state of anticipation that grips us every year in the month leading up to the start, and then promptly lets us down about two weeks after that, and wondering when the Vuelta starts.

This Tour has all the hallmarks of potentially being a great one, with three guys who have to be considered genuine contenders, yet just one who is most likely to win. We really do need a positive test to liven this one up, or someone to juice themselves so comprehensively that the motor in their seat-tube can’t handle the power from their legs and melts the carbon around the bottom bracket and drops onto the road at the summit of Mont Ventoux. Maybe try and blame it on a chimera twin that drank too many whiskeys the night before and left their bike in the team truck with a bag of someone else’s piss strapped to it. That would bring the crowds back. But seriously, if each of the contenders is on form, we could have one of the best races of the last ten years with some real proper drama played out on the roads, not in the labs or courts and not two, three or seven years from now.

We’re giving you plenty of time to ponder the possibilities, and maybe come up with your own hare-brained scenarios as to what may unfold, or what will most likely bring you those precious VSP points and the honour of wearing the Maillot Jaune for the next year. Will you be daring and go out on a limb that doesn’t resemble that of an anorexic spider? Will you take short odds on a short-ass? Will you stake your claims on claims of a steak? Or will you tear yourself apart with internal conflict like a couple of bitchy Italians?

Whatever you do, there is absolutely no excuse to Delgado this one, we’re giving you plenty of time and it’s not like you can claim you didn’t realise that the race was this week… and don’t whinge if this Start List changes before the racing gets underway, it is provisional after all. Good luck and may the best, or second best, man win.

[vsp_results id=”49193″/]

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585 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: Tour de France 2016”

  1. When the AG2R kit first turned brown and baby blue I HATED it, but over the years it’s definitely grown on me to the point that it’s now one of my favourites in the World Tour…fucking odd.

  2. Jens pointed out last night that apart from doing the no-no of riding on a white line in the wet, the reason Froome came off was that he’d attacked on the descent.

    him and Nibbles were a decent way in front already.

  3. @wiscot

    Chapeau to Froome today. After the crash it really looked like he was struggling for a bit but he really pulled it together despite the late attacks. I really see Froome joining the Club of Five in the next few years.

    The odds are against it. Froome is already older than Anquetil, Merckx or Hinault were when each won their fifth Tour.

  4. When Rui Costa won the world champs there was a lot of talk about how he won and whether he was a deserving Champion. I have to say, looking at his performance at this Tour, he’s really impressive and fun to watch. Love his aggression. Another day, another break. Seems like business as usual for him.

  5. @Oli

    When the AG2R kit first turned brown and baby blue I HATED it, but over the years it’s definitely grown on me to the point that it’s now one of my favourites in the World Tour…fucking odd.

    I like the AG2R kit too…

  6. @osbk67

    @wiscot

    Chapeau to Froome today. After the crash it really looked like he was struggling for a bit but he really pulled it together despite the late attacks. I really see Froome joining the Club of Five in the next few years.

    The odds are against it. Froome is already older than Anquetil, Merckx or Hinault were when each won their fifth Tour.

    So much more is known about nutrition, recovery, and performance metrics now that I am not sure that age is all that relevant. Aside from a couple of unexpected attacks and a jog up Mont Ventoux, Froome has not looked as if he has broken a sweat. These last two tours have been heavily skewed to pure climbers and Froomey has still dominated. Put two flat ITTs in the next one and I don’t see him being challenged.

    Finally, I have not heard a rumor of anyone from Team Sky signing with another team. Last year it was rumored that Porte would go to BMC, this year….nothing. The team has set such a tough pace that no one has been able to attack. Everyone that has tried has been brought back. Mollema’s attack yesterday was a microcosm of the entire tour-he attacked, was brought back, and shot (shat?) out the back.

  7. @Oli

    @osbk67

    Age aside, he looks like he’s easily got another two wins in him.

    Especially if Sky can keep sending a team like this year’s team. Anyone think that Woet Pouls or Geraint Thomas could not have won with the same support provided Chris Froome? Mr. Froome was a blast to watch this year in the the early stages. And what a display of team strength in the mtns in later stages. Others cannot attack because of pace being set? Yowza.

  8. @Randy C

    @Oli

    @osbk67

    Does anybody think that Woet Pouls or Geraint Thomas could not have won with the same support provided Chris Froome? 

    I do, Randy. Thomas doesn’t have the knack of avoiding “un-luck” and is also prone to the Portesque major bad day. When Froome attacked Wiggo in 2012 I think we all realised that he had a big, burning ambition and a ruthless streak. My uninformed impression of Pouls is that he may be too much of a nice guy to be the leader and a winner, perhaps in the way that Mark Renshaw struggled as a sprinter in spite of being able to dominate most sprints to within 250m of the finish line.

  9. @marcovelo

    Yeah, he lost grip over some cobbles just short of the line. Back wheel skipped alarmingly. Could’ve been a lot closer if that hadn’t happened …

  10. @marcovelo

    I think there was fresh white painting (Skoda advertising) where he slipped. But it seems Greipel was able to make decisive gap and it was too late so I am not sure if slipping made any difference.

  11. Good win for Griepel. Nice to see the big boy rewarded for gutting it out through the mountains.  Quintana podium spot was possibly the most lacklustre performance I’ve ever seen.

    The problem was that there was no united attack on Froome. It was as if all the other teams drew cards to see which squad would attack each day.

  12. Not that my VSP is salvageable in any way, I am pack fodder, I got up this morning and cursed myself for missing the Women’s Course. I guess we all did.

  13. @Steve Trice

    @Randy C

    @Oli

    @osbk67

    Does anybody think that Woet Pouls or Geraint Thomas could not have won with the same support provided Chris Froome?

    I do, Randy. Thomas doesn’t have the knack of avoiding “un-luck” and is also prone to the Portesque major bad day. When Froome attacked Wiggo in 2012 I think we all realised that he had a big, burning ambition and a ruthless streak. My uninformed impression of Pouls is that he may be too much of a nice guy to be the leader and a winner, perhaps in the way that Mark Renshaw struggled as a sprinter in spite of being able to dominate most sprints to within 250m of the finish line.

    I can appreciate that thinking. There is always the intangibles. And also the TT’s !

  14. @blackpooltower

    @marcovelo

    Yeah, he lost grip over some cobbles just short of the line. Back wheel skipped alarmingly. Could’ve been a lot closer if that hadn’t happened …

    I didn’t watch today’s stage yet. So I’m only going by what’s posted here. But I recall similar (?) with Cav’s rear wheel, it bouncing off the cobbles, at finish in year’s past. Was also on a Venge at time (I’ll assume that was Sagan’s bike today).

  15. @Teocalli

    If Porte had not lost time due to that puncture this would be a different picture. I missed that day as I was out with work. How did he lose the time and not get back on, was that a crosswind split day?

    Folk hark back to the good old days i.e. when The Prophet rode off into the Sunset, was it that much different? You can probably count the close finishes over the whole history of the TdF on one hand. Likely too over all Grand Tours.

    Was very weird, Porte was at the front with basically the whole BMC team at about 5k to go on a stage with a nasty 2k climb to the finish. You could see him peel to the side & filter back to get the puncture sorted, but the rest of the team just kept going in what seemed to be support of GVA for the finish.

    Mavic neutral change took an age to get done, and then he basically had to pick through the shelled riders up the climb on his own, as it wasn’t til about 600m to go that a teammate finally came back to him.

    Granted being such a shorty, there may not be a teammate whose bike he could swap with, but surely someone could have given up their rear wheel.

  16. @Mikael Liddy

    @Teocalli

    If Porte had not lost time due to that puncture this would be a different picture. I missed that day as I was out with work. How did he lose the time and not get back on, was that a crosswind split day?

    Folk hark back to the good old days i.e. when The Prophet rode off into the Sunset, was it that much different? You can probably count the close finishes over the whole history of the TdF on one hand. Likely too over all Grand Tours.

    Was very weird, Porte was at the front with basically the whole BMC team at about 5k to go on a stage with a nasty 2k climb to the finish. You could see him peel to the side & filter back to get the puncture sorted, but the rest of the team just kept going in what seemed to be support of GVA for the finish.

    Mavic neutral change took an age to get done, and then he basically had to pick through the shelled riders up the climb on his own, as it wasn’t til about 600m to go that a teammate finally came back to him.

    Granted being such a shorty, there may not be a teammate whose bike he could swap with, but surely someone could have given up their rear wheel.

    Yeah, I’m sure BMC are regretting that snafu. I think Porte would have podiumed without that puncture. I’m sure the incident affected hism psychologically, especially after it became clear that TJ didn’t have the goods. That the thing with Sky – Froome was never without support. Never.

  17. @Randy C

    @blackpooltower

    @marcovelo

    Yeah, he lost grip over some cobbles just short of the line. Back wheel skipped alarmingly. Could’ve been a lot closer if that hadn’t happened …

    I didn’t watch today’s stage yet. So I’m only going by what’s posted here. But I recall similar (?) with Cav’s rear wheel, it bouncing off the cobbles, at finish in year’s past. Was also on a Venge at time (I’ll assume that was Sagan’s bike today).

    Had Pinchy’s bike handling skills not been as amazing as they are, he could have gone down quite easily. That being said, I was very happy to see Greipel get a win. Pinchy had a couple of stages and the Green jersey too. Speaking of whick, how many maillot verts can the Slovak win? No-one, it seems, can touch him in that competition. He wins stages, picks up loads of top 5 placings and some intermediate sprints and only in the mountains does he fail to score.

  18. @wiscot

    Speaking of whick, how many maillot verts can the Slovak win? No-one, it seems, can touch him in that competition. He wins stages, picks up loads of top 5 placings and some intermediate sprints and only in the mountains does he fail to score.

    Another 5 easily, maybe double that if he stays injury free. I reckon he should try and win the points jersey in all 3 GTs in the same calendar year one time, by way of a different challenge.

  19. Terrible VSP for me unfortunately but I took some photos while at TDF this year if anyone wants to peruse.

    https://flic.kr/s/aHskE99tMz

    Some from podium at Luchon, start of the Mont Ventoux climb and the windy first ITT.

    Clearly Im not a photographer but some of the pics are ok.

  20. @Kay_Jay

    Terrible VSP for me unfortunately but I took some photos while at TDF this year if anyone wants to peruse.

    https://flic.kr/s/aHskE99tMz

    Some from podium at Luchon, start of the Mont Ventoux climb and the windy first ITT.

    Clearly Im not a photographer but some of the pics are ok.

    Hey, thanks for sharing. Love the candid podium shots.

    I’ll just throw this out there, but if anyone should have been on the 3rd podium step it’s Dan Martin, not Wee Nairo. I don’t think the latter ever initiated an attack in the whole race. Martin at least gave it a go several times.

    As for my VSP – 3 out of 5 and NITRO.

  21. @wiscot

    I’ll just throw this out there, but if anyone should have been on the 3rd podium step it’s Dan Martin, not Wee Nairo. I don’t think the latter ever initiated an attack in the whole race. Martin at least gave it a go several times.

    How did Quintana get on the podium? I suppose everyone else in the top 10 had an awful day at least once and Quintana just had a succession of mediocre days.

     

     

  22. @Kay_Jay

    Terrible VSP for me unfortunately but I took some photos while at TDF this year if anyone wants to peruse.

    https://flic.kr/s/aHskE99tMz

    Some from podium at Luchon, start of the Mont Ventoux climb and the windy first ITT.

    Clearly Im not a photographer but some of the pics are ok.

    Some great shots! I was at Le Tour a decade ago and hope I get the chance to return.

  23. Kay Jay – what the hell is going on with the guys holding hands with the funny looking dude? A streaker?!!

  24. Chapeau to Froomey and Sky. They did a superb job as a team, stuck around him and helped him when he had a problem, Ventoux excepted but that was into the very final of the stage. He showed some extra depth with the win on a descent, gaining time on a flat stage in the wind, running up Ventoux and then finishing with the other GC contenders on a borrowed bike.

    I think he’s shown himself to be a more complete and determined competitor than many would have given him credit for. He’ll have his haters but I say he gave it 100% and did a superb job and you can’t really knock him for that.

    Be great to see him back at the Vuelta, but good luck in Rio first.

  25. @Geraint

    Chapeau to Froomey and Sky. They did a superb job as a team, stuck around him and helped him when he had a problem, Ventoux excepted but that was into the very final of the stage. He showed some extra depth with the win on a descent, gaining time on a flat stage in the wind, running up Ventoux and then finishing with the other GC contenders on a borrowed bike.

    I think he’s shown himself to be a more complete and determined competitor than many would have given him credit for. He’ll have his haters but I say he gave it 100% and did a superb job and you can’t really knock him for that.

    Be great to see him back at the Vuelta, but good luck in Rio first.

    Agreed. Sky have one job – to get Froome in yellow and keep him there. BMC must be regretting their poor job of looking after Richie P. Imagine if Froome had been isolated when he crashed on the wet descent? He could have lost minutes.

    Highlights for me of the Tour?

    Cav back to his winning ways

    The incredible number of photo-finish sprints

    Dumoulin’s win in the hail

    Tony and Julian’s big adventure – then finishing last with smiles

    Froome’s new attitude and aggression

    Showing respect to Jocky Rodriguez and letting him lead onto the Champs Elysees

    Steve Cummings’ win

    The beautiful countryside of France

  26. @wiscot

    @Geraint

    Chapeau to Froomey and Sky. They did a superb job as a team, stuck around him and helped him when he had a problem, Ventoux excepted but that was into the very final of the stage. He showed some extra depth with the win on a descent, gaining time on a flat stage in the wind, running up Ventoux and then finishing with the other GC contenders on a borrowed bike.

    I think he’s shown himself to be a more complete and determined competitor than many would have given him credit for. He’ll have his haters but I say he gave it 100% and did a superb job and you can’t really knock him for that.

    Be great to see him back at the Vuelta, but good luck in Rio first.

    Agreed. Sky have one job – to get Froome in yellow and keep him there. BMC must be regretting their poor job of looking after Richie P. Imagine if Froome had been isolated when he crashed on the wet descent? He could have lost minutes.

    Highlights for me of the Tour?

    Cav back to his winning ways

    The incredible number of photo-finish sprints

    Dumoulin’s win in the hail

    Tony and Julian’s big adventure – then finishing last with smiles

    Froome’s new attitude and aggression

    Showing respect to Jocky Rodriguez and letting him lead onto the Champs Elysees

    Steve Cummings’ win

    The beautiful countryside of France

    Agreed, BMC really let Porte down, a couple of instances of bad luck cost him dear as his teammates weren’t about when he needed them. He could well have been on the podium otherwise.

    Cav was a revelation, seemed to make the most of the sketchy finishes where it was more about having a sixth sense and surfing the right wheels than having a sprint train dropping him off with 200m to go. V stage wins for Dimension Data between him and Steevo was a fantastic effort for a smallish team.

    I am properly proud of the whole British effort – overall win, white jersey, and won a third of the stages. Chapeau fellas.

  27. @Geraint

    I think what we saw with Cav was a couple of things: clearly on top form, but perhaps more/most importantly, top mental and strategic form. The big lead-out train wasn’t there, instead he had to rely on pure experience and instinct – whose wheel to follow, when to move. He seems to know the styles and habits of his competitors very well too. He knows when Kittel and Greipel are going to go and how they sprint. You don’t get to 30 stage wins just by being the fastest.

    I think he would have won on the Champs Elysses too. That was big, wide open run-in and he would have slipstreamed Greipel.

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