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. Anyway, here comes my final list at massive penalty cost:

    Froome

    Mollema

    Yates

    Quintana

    Valverde

    Right, I do not think the GC changes between today and Sunday.

  2. oh what the hell, thanks for closing it out so early and keeping me from swapping at a massive penalty!

  3. got here too late to make any changes,  oh well, no new frame for me!

    doesn’t matter, Froome has it locked up.  none of the other GC guys are willing to attack and risk their precious top 10 position.  Quintana once again is proving that he doesn’t have the man sack to win the Tour.  which is unfortunate because he is such a good climber and a pretty decent bike racer.   the Team Sky Robots are just too darned good at churning out an unshakable tempo.

  4. @Rusty Gramm

    Froome has it locked up. none of the other GC guys are willing to attack and risk their precious top 10 position. . the Team Sky Robots are just too darned good at churning out an unshakable tempo.

    True dat by and large, although I think an on-form (and, indeed, in the race) Contador and even a Nibali who has targeted the Tour would have had a go at shaking that tempo. Quinata might yet surprise us; most of the others all have personal best placings to lose, he doesn’t (and nor does his teammate Piti).

  5. My competitive sports background is in ball sports so I cannot wrap my head around being okay with losing to protect a good showing/placing. Fuck that is my reaction.

    That said, easily my worst Grand Tour VSP of all time, which really pisses me off. How, how did I get it so wrong?

  6. @Steve Trice

    @Rusty Gramm

    Froome has it locked up. none of the other GC guys are willing to attack and risk their precious top 10 position. . the Team Sky Robots are just too darned good at churning out an unshakable tempo.

    True dat by and large, although I think an on-form (and, indeed, in the race) Contador and even a Nibali who has targeted the Tour would have had a go at shaking that tempo. Quinata might yet surprise us; most of the others all have personal best placings to lose, he doesn’t (and nor does his teammate Piti).

    I think Yates and Mollema will play it safe. Aru, Quintana and Martin need to go for it.

    Lovely to see the other Martin and Alaphilippe cross the line last yesterday after their epic escape. That’s what I love to see – nothing ventured, nothing gained. It was a long shot, but they gave it a go. Just wonderful and they looked like they had fun doing it. Dan Martin, take a tip from Tony – gamble.

    VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Nairo Quintana
    2. Fabio Aru
    3. Chris Froome
    4. Romain Bardet
    5. Daniel Martin
  7. @frank

    @1860

    @KogaLover

    Little bug in the counddown clock again. Open now.

    Jesus Mary and Joseph, Mate!  What’s it going to take for you to realize that the V Force is telling you to do away with the rest day swaps???  There are no coincidences in life, only Fate and The Way!

  8. @Buck Rogers

    @frank

    @1860

    @KogaLover

    Little bug in the counddown clock again. Open now.

    Jesus Mary and Joseph, Mate! What’s it going to take for you to realize that the V Force is telling you to do away with the rest day swaps??? There are no coincidences in life, only Fate and The Way!

    Totally agree, even that cunt Tinkoff hasn’t tried to swap Contador out of his picks.

  9. NO SWAPS! NO SWAPS! NO SWAPS! That little Colombian bad-ass will take it to Froome in the Alps. Not that Froome hasn’t looked freaking awesome. This should be a great final week. I’ll be streaming it at work. Good thing I work for myself. My boss won’t complain.

  10. Wondering if Movistar, Astana and/or BMC are prepared to work together tomorrow to try and break Sky’s dominance? Would make for a good few days…

  11. @Rusty Gramm

    the Team Sky Robots are just too darned good at churning out an unshakable tempo.

    Isn’t that an option for every team? [Caveat – provided they get the riders that can do that].

    Surely there is something that is admirable about a team that says – we’ll keep the pace up, and let our no.1 dog off he leash at certain places to get the yellow.

    Again today, I turn to the web expecting to hear how Quintana et al have attacked Sky but nada, the breakaway has no GC challengers. Is everyone fighting for second? Has Sky created an aura that says –  don’t bother attacking us as we will crush you and your dreams?

  12. @davidlhill

    @Rusty Gramm

    the Team Sky Robots are just too darned good at churning out an unshakable tempo.

    Isn’t that an option for every team? [Caveat – provided they get the riders that can do that].

    Surely there is something that is admirable about a team that says – we’ll keep the pace up, and let our no.1 dog off he leash at certain places to get the yellow.

    Again today, I turn to the web expecting to hear how Quintana et al have attacked Sky but nada, the breakaway has no GC challengers. Is everyone fighting for second? Has Sky created an aura that says – don’t bother attacking us as we will crush you and your dreams?

    I think Froome has this unless he has a bad day or crashes. The podium could be up for grabs though. Frankly Mollema and Yates are deserving of #2 and #3 spots. If you’re Aru or Martin, what do you have to lose by going on the attack? Finishing in the 10-15 range instead of the top 10?

  13. @wiscot

    I love bike racing, its usually such an exciting dance between elite athletes.  but at the Tour of the last few years, its been pretty much Team Sky just eating everyone for lunch.  Nairo seems like he just doesn’t have what it takes, and the rest of the GC guys pretty much know they have no chance for the top step, so they’re just playing chicken for the remainder of the top 10.  I like Froome, but i would like to see some more gutsiness from the other contenders.  its the outsiders making this tour wonderful.

  14. I really don’t understand why Movistar, BMC and Astana don’t put their heads together and work out a way of collectively attacking Sky. It’s their only chance.

    I also thought Sky missed a trick today – when Dan Martin attacked they could have turned around to the others and said ‘he’s no threat to yellow but he could take one of your places on GC – you’d better chase him’.

  15.  

    @brett

    What are you talking about? The Tour has nearly always been won in a procession by a dominant team, whether it’s Sky, Astana, USPS, Banesto, etc., etc., and the GC is often the least interesting part of it – the story is always in the daily stages and the incredibly varied tales they tell. Sometimes it’s like you haven’t been paying attention to what’s actually been happening and expect it to play out like some random little race like the Giro…

     

  16. @RobSandy

    Because they could lose their overall positions and it’s not good business sense to give away publicity to a competing team. Sure alliances might form on the road but it’s pretty rare to get actual arranged collusion between opposing teams…except in Spain maybe.

  17. My take away from this years tour are that Nairo is a sook and can’t quite pull it together to look good for the full tour, Froome in another team would be electric, still deeply disturbing to watch but electric, and, from the Giro and Tour, in the next few years OGE could become a real GC contender rather than just chasing stages and podiums.

    For the rest day picks perhaps the penalty should be the points equvalent of the people behind them left in the tour on GC timing. For example, swap Cancellara to Froome and lose 179 points, swap to Lars Bak and lose 1. It means you might risk a Cancellara swap to pick up Kittel for some stage points at a cost of 11, but you won’t get points in the top end of town from your swaps or on the GC.

     

  18. 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.

     

  19. @Oli

    @RobSandy

    Because they could lose their overall positions and it’s not good business sense to give away publicity to a competing team.

    Yes, and it’s a shame that this is a consideration.

    @Oli

    @brett

    What are you talking about? The Tour has nearly always been won in a procession by a dominant team, whether it’s Sky, Astana, USPS, Banesto, etc., etc., and the GC is often the least interesting part of it – the story is always in the daily stages and the incredibly varied tales they tell. Sometimes it’s like you haven’t been paying attention to what’s actually been happening and expect it to play out like some random little race like the Giro…

    It seems that Froome/Sky can’t win. If they do ALL the work, chase down every break, put all their bodies on the line day after day they get called boring. Even with Froome attacking virtually every opportunity he’s had (and some that really didn’t look like opportunities at the time).

    What is missing is a meaningful and aggressive competitor – and that’s not Sky’s fault.

     

  20. @Teocalli

    Folk hark back to the good old days i.e. when The Prophet rode off into the Sunset, was it that much different?

    Merckx wasn’t that popular when he was winning everything, either.

     

  21. @RobSandy

    @Oli

    It seems that Froome/Sky can’t win. If they do ALL the work, chase down every break, put all their bodies on the line day after day they get called boring. Even with Froome attacking virtually every opportunity he’s had (and some that really didn’t look like opportunities at the time).

    What is missing is a meaningful and aggressive competitor – and that’s not Sky’s fault.

    Froome and Sky have simply done a solid job and my admiration has grown exponentially for him. Wouter Poels does great work as a domestique, and this year Froome certainly made a couple of unexpected and innovative moves that made him look away from his stem: yellow-green combo finish, downhill chase, uphill chase on foot. I think they made the TdF much more lively than before.

  22. @KogaLover

    @RobSandy

    @Oli

    It seems that Froome/Sky can’t win. If they do ALL the work, chase down every break, put all their bodies on the line day after day they get called boring. Even with Froome attacking virtually every opportunity he’s had (and some that really didn’t look like opportunities at the time).

    What is missing is a meaningful and aggressive competitor – and that’s not Sky’s fault.

    Froome and Sky have simply done a solid job and my admiration has grown exponentially for him. Wouter Poels does great work as a domestique, and this year Froome certainly made a couple of unexpected and innovative moves that made him look away from his stem: yellow-green combo finish, downhill chase, uphill chase on foot. I think they made the TdF much more lively than before.

    As Wout Poels said in an article: “I would not like to race against our team,” Good explanation on what is going and how Team Sky crushes any attempt of rival teams. 

    I wonder if there will be another team in the near future who could challenge them.

  23. Anybody remember the time when 5 minutes was considered a tight lead in the Tour?

  24. @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.

    If BMC had left him with just one team mate to sacrifice a wheel we might be talking about Porte putting in a genuine challenge for yellow over the next three days. They must regret going all in with TVG that day.

  25. @Steve Trice

    @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.

    If BMC had left him with just one team mate to sacrifice a wheel we might be talking about Porte putting in a genuine challenge for yellow over the next three days. They must regret going all in with TVG that day.

    Agreed. That early in the race, BMC should have been keeping its options open and giving both Richie and TJ at least one pilot fish teammate. Subsequent events have shown they made a poor call.

    Good to see big Tommy D has his white TT go-go boots on today. Maybe lucky again for him?

  26. Richie Porte rolls down the ramp at the end of the five-second countdown. On Eurosport’s commentary, Sean Kelly is asked how he can improve his GC position of sixth today. The no-nonsense reply: “Go. Really. Fast. All. The. Way.”

    Oh yes Mr Kelly. 1st Class!

  27. @the Engine

    Aero tuck at almost 80 kph on a TT bike. No thanks.

    I was a bit worried about Foome having seen how sketchy Mollema look in one of the last corners. Admittedly, Mollema was going faster but he was on a proper bike.

    I’m looking forwards to Qunitana’s Big Day Out in the Alps. It’s going to have to be off the scale epic now.

  28. @chris

    @the Engine

     

    I’m looking forwards to Qunitana’s Big Day Out in the Alps. It’s going to have to be off the scale epic now.

    Not going to happen. I think we’re going to see attacks but the meaningful ones will come from Porte to try and get on the podium, and from Froome to crush his opponents souls. Again.

  29. @the Engine

    That was awesome by Froomedog

    Indeed it was. the other two steps on the podium are very much up for grabs though.A late charge by Aru in the mountains?

  30. @wiscot

    @the Engine

    That was awesome by Froomedog

    Indeed it was. the other two steps on the podium are very much up for grabs though.A late charge by Aru in the mountains?

    I hope not as I removed him from my picks!  Mollema to hang in there and Porte to come storming through to just make the podium would suit me fine.

  31. @Teocalli

    @wiscot

    @the Engine

    That was awesome by Froomedog

    Indeed it was. the other two steps on the podium are very much up for grabs though.A late charge by Aru in the mountains?

    I hope not as I removed him from my picks! Mollema to hang in there and Porte to come storming through to just make the podium would suit me fine.

    My picks are so shite, it really doesn’t matter what happens. I had Quintana in 1st and Froome in 3rd! Aru in 2nd, Bardet in 4th and Martin in 5th.

    Great ride by Tommy D today. Impressive for a big man on a stage like that.

  32. I think Mollema will blow and drop right off the podium. My money would now go on Porte third and Yates second. Wherever he finishes young Adam has had a stellar Tour, but Lord help him next year when he’s inevitably thrown under the wheels of the hype-waggon by the cycling media.

  33. and another Pinarello ready for scrapping: the thin white line, slippery when wet.

  34. Bad day for Dutch cycling… Mollema lost 2nd place and Dumoulin apparently broke his wrist.

  35. That was mental out there today! Sorry for Dumoulin and Mollema, delighted for Bardet. (Going against the tide here, but I love the AG2R kit and bike color scheme). Several guys at least gave it a go: Martin, Aru, but wee Nairo just sucked wheels.

    Whole lot to play for tomorrow – steps 2 and 3 on the podium are on the table and three guys fighting for them. I’m hoping for Froome, Bardet, Yates. We shall see . . .

  36. @wiscot

    That was mental out there today! Sorry for Dumoulin and Mollema, delighted for Bardet. (Going against the tide here, but I love the AG2R kit and bike color scheme). Several guys at least gave it a go: Martin, Aru, but wee Nairo just sucked wheels.

    Whole lot to play for tomorrow – steps 2 and 3 on the podium are on the table and three guys fighting for them. I’m hoping for Froome, Bardet, Yates. We shall see . . .

    Bardet is s stylish rider for sure but I didn’t see that attack coming. We would probably all like to think that it was planned but I suspect it it was born out of opportunity. Chapeau either way!

    The kit is growing on me too.

    I’d prefer to see Yates a step higher on the podium than Bardet though. For a young rider he’s had a long, long spell in the top three.

     

  37. @chris

    @wiscot

    That was mental out there today! Sorry for Dumoulin and Mollema, delighted for Bardet. (Going against the tide here, but I love the AG2R kit and bike color scheme). Several guys at least gave it a go: Martin, Aru, but wee Nairo just sucked wheels.

    Whole lot to play for tomorrow – steps 2 and 3 on the podium are on the table and three guys fighting for them. I’m hoping for Froome, Bardet, Yates. We shall see . . .

    Bardet is s stylish rider for sure but I didn’t see that attack coming. We would probably all like to think that it was planned but I suspect it it was born out of opportunity. Chapeau either way!

    The kit is growing on me too.

    I’d prefer to see Yates a step higher on the podium than Bardet though. For a young rider he’s had a long, long spell in the top three.

    Indeed! Planned or opportunistic – more power to M. Bardet! He took a chance and it paid off. TBH I don’t really care the order of Bardet and Yates on the podium. They’ve ridden superbly over the last three weeks and deserve the recognition and accolades. I’ll be very disappointed is one or the other have an off day tomorrow and Quintana sneaks on the podium.

    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.

    Glad to see you getting with the program and liking the AG2R kit. I also hope Giant Alpecin stay with the white kit – so much better than the black version.

  38. Interesting thoughts on the AG2R kits as today with Astana and these cats up front I was thinking that yes, I still think Astana’s kits are flat out a ugly baby blue, not turquoise, but could be salvaged just fine with black shorts. And, I was noting AG2R had very similar color on the shoulder and sleeve and then the Focus bikes too. And I was wondering, do I like their kits? Because for a while my initial reaction has always been blah… So, I’ll consider myself indifferent from previously not liking. But, it’s actually, and strangely enough, the Tinkoff kits that are growing on me. I’ve heard ’em referred to as lime green but really? That’s not lime green. Blaze yellow? Whatev… But it’s the shorts and the strangish kinda grey that just seem to my eye to work. This is definitely some very important stuff to consider too!

    Cheers all.

  39. I’ve never liked the AG2R kit, seems kinda dated to me. Love the grey and green of Tinkoff though, and the Gabba green of Cannondale.

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