Velominati Super Prestige: Tour de France

Two douchebags and A. Grimpeur rocket up the Ventoux in 2009

The inaugural Velominati Super Prestige continues the with Tour de France edition, on Saturday July 3rd in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, just kilometers from the start of the Giro d’Italia in Amsterdam (Dutchland is a small country). This will be the second Grand Tour of the series, and at this stage the Grand Tour rules and regulations are fairly well-defined, so take a moment to review them on the VSP Page.

The Tour is, of course, a major event.  My personal preference lies with the Giro, but there is no denying the magnitude of the Tour and the appeal it holds.  For three weeks, the world pays attention to our sport, and – provided the Tour doesn’t coincide with the World Cup football matches – this is the biggest sporting event during this time of the year.  (An interesting observation: the last time these events coincided, the winner was eventually stripped of his title.)

Having run the VSP Giro edition where we tested the ruleset for Grand Tours, we’ve managed to set up a scoring system that seems fair and helps to close down the competition to afford newcomers the ability to catch up with some good picks; the Giro proved that lineup switches and the associated penalties kept the point gains pretty small while allowing strategy to play an interesting role.  There is a full overview of the rules and standing at the VSP Schedule, Rules, & Results page, but here is the ten-second overview:

Every contestant is to choose their top five General Classification picks of the race.  The final podium of le Grande Boucle is worth 15 points to the winner, 10 points for second, 5 points for third, 3 points for fourth, and 2 point for fifth.  Given the effect crashes can have on a tour, we’ve set up some guidelines around making changes to your lineup during the race: you’re allowed to change your lineup if any rider in your pick list drops out for any reason without any penalty; rest days will allow contestants to make changes to their lineup, however those changes will come at a point penalty.  (Visit the VSP Schedule, Rules, & Results page for a complete breakdown of these points.)

Every day, the leader in the points standings will have the honor of wearing the Yellow Jersey when posting on the site; the overall winner will wear the Yellow Jersey for the remainder of the season and will also earn an “Obey the Rules” bumper sticker.  All reader’s points qualify towards the final prize of the free Velominati Shop Apron.  As always, if you are inclined to enter, simply post your predictions for the top five placings.

New to the Tour de France edition is the addition of naming the winner of the Green and Polka-dot jerseys for the Tour.  There will be no points awarded towards these two jerseys, but the leader of the competition of these jerseys will have the honor of commenting with a Green or Polka-dot jersey badge throughout the competition and the winner will earn the right to comment with that badge until next year’s Tour.  The contestant who picks both the final Green and Polka jersey winners correctly will win a Velominati Logo bumper sticker.   Tie-breakers will go to the first contestant who posts their entire lineup (all 5 GC picks plus Green and Polka-dot jersey winners).  Given that this sub-competition has no points, pick substitutions will only be granted under the DNF regulations of the VSP; no rest-day substitutions are allowed.

Sub-competitions will be conducted while the Tour is underway for specific stages.  These stages will be chosen a few days prior to the stage being held and will be selected based on the current race conditions with the aim of choosing the most decisive and exciting stages of the race, so check back often to make sure you don’t miss out.  Sub-competitions will be held in separate editions.

Good luck!

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759 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: Tour de France”

  1. Can someone explain to me why Armstrong waited for the group sprint when there is no way he can win one? Why not attack right at the catch?

    I couldn’t believe my eyes!

  2. @frank
    I was waiting and waiting for him to make a break, too, but LA’s only got one speed. He really struggled when others varied the pace on the climbs. I suspect it had less to do with tactics and more to do with the physical reality that there were younger, faster, fresher legs in the breakaway. If he had tried to attack, others would have caught and dropped him.

  3. @frank

    Your guess is as good as mine. He could have gone from like 300 or 700 or whatever meters out. Then I thought somehow Horner was going to lead him in but that would be like Caven’tgotaprayerinthemountainsdish attacking on the Tourmalet and besides, LA was in the back of the pack a few places behind Horner. I really did think he’d pull off the win though when they caught Barredo. After everything that’s gone down in this year’s tour the queen mountain stage was a bit anti-climatic don’t you think?

  4. Also needs to be said: Chapeau to Hushovd for getting that big body over those little bumps today in order to pick up points at the finish. He is one tough, tough customer.

  5. I think Roche punctured on the Pyresourde today too. Cos he was in the early dangerous break and then suddenly he was behind Sanchez’ group which was behind the yellow jersey group. Man, that guy is unlucky

  6. Basso reportedly has bronchitis and lost about three weeks and today’s stage. Does that count as a crash, or do we have to wait from him to bow out in order to replace?

  7. @Kermitpunk
    Have to wait, mate. Sorry (he’s my pick, too). Unless a crash knocks him 10 minutes behind, you don’t get a freebie until he drops out. Besides, I think any changes this late due to a dropout would results in a highly scrutinized Piti Principle Review.

  8. I don’t know where to put this. So here it is:

    My l’Etape du Tour

    It was the most brutal day on a bike. I’m still in shock.

    Up at 4am to get to Pau for 6am. Started at 7am. Superfast early pace. 4th cat 3k climb at 20k and then the mental 13k Marie-Blanque at 55km. That averages 13% for the last 4k and is fucking evil. Flatish until the Solour which is 21km long. At the foot my pedal cleat went on left foot and from there I couldn’t stand on the pedals. Did the climb one footed at 8% average. Now 32c. Mental descent at speeds of 80kph and then 20k flat to the Tourmalet. Now 35c. At 5k into that (19k at 8.5% av) I then cracked due to having to sit the whole way from the foot of the Solour. I made it to 9k from the end before being eliminated on time.

    Stats were 172km, av speed 19k, 9hrs 4, 3600 metres climbed. I was in tears on more than one occasion. There is nothing in the UK that prepares you for 3 climbs of 2 hours each. It was carnage. People being sick, huge crashes and one dead.

    Just unreal.

  9. @Guy Well done. Rode the same stage four weeks ago, in rain, in fog, in pain, in delirium. Toughest thing I ever did, and it wasn’t pretty. I share your pain, despite liberal application of Rule #5. Suffered on Marie Blanque, Died on Soulor, Resurrected on Tourmalet. Chapeau! Well done… you have earned the right to refer to your legs in the third person (BTW, anyone noticed how Veino now refers to himself in the third person, as in “Vino won’t talk about 2007, ask a different question”)

  10. Is it just me (and I’m full of self-loathing) did anybody else want Lance to win today? the set-up was perfect (drop so far back over the last week that the main contenders won’t worry about you), the run-in was classy (catching Baredo with 1km to ride was cruel but efficient) but the finishing … was pants… too old to sprint, and “I don’t want any gifts”… it reminds me of how he missed the maillot jaune by less than a second in the team time trial last year… I hate myself, but I do want him to have a last hurrah… but maybe those 7am drug tests are doing their job, and he just hasn’t got the legs anymore…

  11. @roadslave

    BTW, anyone noticed how Veino now refers to himself in the third person, as in “Vino won’t talk about 2007, ask a different question”

    I can’t wait to hear him say, “Veino wants a num-num. Veino hungry.”

    As for the Lance bit…yeah…so conflicted…but yeah. I hate to see someone with such an amazing record peeter out like this. I was just waiting for him to launch off the back; he was sitting back there resting; I thought for sure he was going to jump right with the catch. It would have been classic for him to solo the last km and take the win.

    Oh well. Maybe he’ll just solo off the front on the Champs?

  12. @ben
    Amazing story! Surely Gadret would be aware that will come back to him in about 10 different ways? Frank, Gadret’s performance surely deserves its own lexicon entry – something like “doing a Gadret” where you put your own interests before the team (but make this funny). Oh wait, maybe you need to make that “doing a veino”?

    I too was hoping Lance would pull it off. A little bit like buying Baxter, hoping for a Lance win made me feel a little dirty but also made me feel good. He had nothing in the finale – his half-arsed, too early sprint reminded me of many of my own feeble sprints and efforts, er, elsewhere. Jump out early with a modicum of promise, find my own efforts over before the real business begins, and leave my “supporters” a little underwhelmed!

    For a good L’Etape read, go to:

    This guy can ride (one of the better A graders in Melbourne) – and coincidentally, like Guy, he spent a long time with one wrecked pedal during the ride.

  13. @Guy
    Was wondering how you’d got on. Thanks for the report. It’s unusual to feel envious of and pity for someone at the same time for the same reason. But I do. Chapeau.

  14. @Guy
    You hard bastard. Well done. Christ, I remember my own L’Etape effort in 2003 the same way. Brutal as fuck. Without question the hardest day I’ve ever spent on a bike. After that day, realizing that the pros do this day in, day out, I said to myself, “Right. You can’t ride the Tour without doping. Settled.”

    Still, I hope they don’t dope, but it is a tall, tall order.

    At the foot my pedal cleat went on left foot and from there I couldn’t stand on the pedals.

    Can someone please translate “went on left foot” into English for me?

  15. @Marcus

    Gadret’s performance surely deserves its own lexicon entry – something like “doing a Gadret” where you put your own interests before the team (but make this funny).

    Or pulling a Bertie?

  16. @Nathan Edwards

    Thought they could only happen before the last rest day anyway.

    There’s no rule for it, but that’s a good point. We’ll see if anyone tries to pull a Piti on us.

    By the way, get your Rest Day lineup changes in by the time the stage Thursday starts for your final substitutions.

    Also, we’ll be doing a VSP on Stage 17 (going up tomorrow), so get your picks together.

  17. From the “just when you think Jens couldn’t possibly get any harder” file:

    “I’m doing 70 kilometers an hour on the first descent when my front tire explodes. Before I hit the asphalt I actually manage to think that this is going to hurt. Both knees, elbows, hands, shoulders and the entire left side of my body were severely hurt. My ribs are hurting but hey, broken ribs are overrated anyway. Fortunately, I didn’t land on my face this time and I’m still alive. I was offered a ride on the truck that picks up abandoned riders but I’m not going to quit another Tour de France.”

    “Broken ribs are overrated”?! (Is this code for “If that skinny Scot can do it then so can I”?)

  18. @frank
    are you referring to Bert’s first burst in the Pyrenees last year to nail Lance? If so, I believe Lance may have thrown the first punch with his earlier effort in the cross-winds.

    And I believe Bernie Hinault might have pulled the greatest Gadret of all when he tried to royally fuck LeMond in 1986 after pledging support for LeMelvis?

    So do we call it a Mischievous Badger?

  19. @Geof,
    I think that earns Jens the Hardman of the Year award. Fractured ribs are one thing, but to ride out the rest of the tour on broken ribs? What a badass.

    @frank and @roadslave,
    I’ve been pulling for Lance to get his stage win. It would suck to see him go out without a little glory. I really wanted him to win today but it just didn’t happen. I think he’ll make another run for it when they hit the Tourmalet again, and maybe he’ll make it this time.

    Soloing to victory on the Champs Elysees would be pretty memorable, but the sprinters would never let him get away with that.

  20. Oh, by the way, watching today’s stage made me want to jump on my bike and do hill repeats like a man possessed.

    So I did. Totally worth it.

  21. crossy :

    crossy :1. Contador2. Evans3. Schleck A4. Phamastrong5. Wiggins

    Ok, with Phama crashing out, I need to make changes, here goes… (Top three remain the same).Contador (my pistol had better not be a BB gun!)Evans (don’t step on my dog)Schleck A (I’m doing it for Franky boyo)Basso (que e doping control?)Menchov (let’s see if I can avoid stacking on a straight road)

    Hi Frank, I think with Cadel wussing it with his fracture – I can swap him with no penalty??? Also might need a rest day swap (big gamble – I might end up with a negative total!)


    Jurgen vandebrrooooook
    Sanchez (Sammy the seal)


  22. @Marcus
    Thanks. That’s gold. He is a legend. The photo has (temporarily) replaced one of my kids as the Background on my screen. I’ll explain it to them as follows: “I don’t care what you do when you grow up, so long as it is something that is worthwhile and that you like, and so long as you do it to the best of your ability – which means being like this big German man on this little yelow bike. I know that doesn’t make sense to you now. But I hope one day it will.”

  23. No sleep ’til daylight…

    Due to being incompetent and choosing three riders who have fallen out of contention, my revised top-5 is as:
    Invisible Denis
    Sami the Salmon
    The Tall Belgian

    As another nappy change is imminent I haven;t the time to go through the discussion, but re: Chaingate, I’m sure someone else will have stated the obvious solution and that is think what Eddy would have done. Also Schlecklet needs to HTFU. Turned into a big whining pussy this tour

    Viva la revolution

  24. @Marcus

    are you referring to Bert’s first burst in the Pyrenees last year to nail Lance? If so, I believe Lance may have thrown the first punch with his earlier effort in the cross-winds.

    Good call, but no – referring to him motoring by Veino to grab a very minor time gain. But it’s understandable and not as good as your calls anyway. Grasping at straws and all that.

    Love the Badger angle. Must ruminate on this. (Second I’ve used this word today. Must stop.)

  25. @crossy
    Sorry mate, but Cadel didn’t loose time (in fact took the MJ) the day of the crash. The VSP rules don’t apply here. Sucks on Basso, too. Those are the brakes; that’s racing, I guess.

    Christ, get those twins raised and get back here to keep us honest!

    Oh, and Andy will still win this Tour!

  26. @frank
    Maybe ‘Ungrateful Badger” is more appropriate as it references LeMelvis’ assistance in 85 as well as Hinault’s betrayal in 86.

    My regular riding mates were three Ungrateful Badgers on Saturday. 40k from home got a cut in my tubeless tyre. First ungrateful badger left the scene immediately citing a wife/child imposed curfew. Hands were freezing so had to resort to using levers to get a tube in (HTFU – I know I know). Went thru two tubes and we were down to one between us. They weren’t willing to risk their last tube so the fucked off and I had to catch an $80 taxi home. After all the shit I have done for them. Fucking Ungrateful Badgers.

  27. @Marcus, @Geof
    Just saw this on Twitter, via Andy’s account:

    Hi it’s Jens, I am ok! Basically only my right ankle is untouched, all the rest of has some roadrush. But I will reach Paris this year – promised!

    Basically just my right ankle is untouched! Classic! I can’t tell if he’s being sarcastic or not!

  28. @Marcus

    Jens’ story from the fall in full – including a quality photo of him descending on a far too small replacement bike with toe clips

    HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!! TOE CLIPS!!! What a fucking stud.

  29. @Omar
    Either that or become a Velomihottie – the likelihood and extent of assistance offered increasing in direct proportion to the babe-rating of the person requiring it.

  30. The full story from Sunday:

    Here’s the full story.

    The start:

    Wednesday 14th July – Leave Gatwick with Rob. Arrive at Toulouse 6pm, get hire car and hack down to Bazugues to stay.

    Thursday – food run and building bikes up. Evening with friends.

    Friday – 35 mile ride with Rob around Mirande/Mielan. Felt ok, lumpy roads and warm.

    Saturday– leave for Lourdes 9am. Arrive at Miramont hotel, unpack and head to Pau. Register in Etape village and have a browse. Head back to Lourdes for dinner and to meet up with Trek UK boys. Great bunch. Hit the sack at 10pm. No sleep for me until 2am.

    Sunday 18th July – Alarm at 4am. My God I’m already knackered.

    Leave Lourdes at 5am. Arrive at Pau at 6am. Bikes off, kit on, final checks done. Ride to find start pen for riders numbered from 251-600. See Alain Prost and Erik Zabel. Won’t see them again that day.

    7am. Start. First 5km plunge down away from Pau. Very, very fast. Lots of fast boys coming past trying to make up places early. Remind myself to pace as planned. First climb, the 4th Cat Cote de Gaye, comes at 20km in. 2.5km long at 7% average. No problems here. Day is still cool and lots of shade. Lulled.

    Lumpy to the foot of the first proper climb, the Col de Marie-Blanque. Starts easy enough at 4-5% for the first 6km of its 13km length. 5km left and it veers up to 13% and stays there for the rest of the climb. Crash at the top. Narrow road means a bottleneck and we’re all walking for 1km. This walk would cost me a finish. More on that soon. Riding again now. Watch the heart rate, keep it below 180bpm. Don’t go into the red on this one.

    Over the top of the climb, working really hard and see the Trek Travel feed stop. Descent is amazing. See massive crash. Focus, it’s not you. Focus. Out of drinks by now and refill. Small coke and some nuts here. Gels every 45 minutes. Temp is rising now as we approach the second climb…..

    Col du Solour. 22km of exposed, 35c Pyreneean hell. Stop at the foot for more drinks from Trek Travel. Start again and can’t clip my left foot into my pedal. Push down really hard and it’s in. Start the climb. Out of the saddle at 1km in and my left foot is out of the pedal. Can’t get it back in now. Can’t climb standing. This is really bad news. 21km left to climb at 8% average and can’t stand for any of it. Half-way up. Sitting in, working hard, breathing, sweating. Pass rider in Caisse d’Epargne kit being sick. A lot. Carry on, can’t think about that. Hit 6km to go. Really suffering now. So hot, no water, no shade. People on the climbs everywhere shouting, ‘Allez, Allez’. Their words give me strength. Can’t climb off now. Have to get over the top. Finally, 1km to go. Legs burning, dying on the bike. Never suffered like this. Mentally I’m in bits. Stop at the summit. Water. See the Mavic support truck. Ask for a new cleat. Don’t carry anyway. I’m stuffed. But I’m riding that descent. More crashes. Focus. Drop like a stone.

    Fly down towards Argeles-Gazost. 80kph and carve the turns. Refuel on the straights. Gels. Pass masses of riders here. Starting to recover. Have to get to the final elimination point before 3.30pm. Make it at 3.05pm. Stop 4km later at Trek Travel, more drinks. So hot now. Skin is burning with salt and sweat. What am I doing here? Crying whilst I’m riding now. Tears and sweat. Thinking of home. Do it for them. Suck it up. Ride. Rule No. 5. Harden up. I’m dying.

    Sign ahead ‘Arrivee 50km’. Can I do this? Start the approach to the Col du Tourmalet. More people than ever now. Man with hose hits me with ice cold water. I stop and stand there to get as much as I can. English couple push me to start. Encouragement and an energy bar. Thank you.

    Turn up to start the Tourmalet climb. I have 2 hours 5 minutes to climb the 19km 8.5km average. 160km ridden now and no shade. The heat. Too much. Sitting down has done for me, can’t climb. Keep going. Barely turn the pedals. If I stop I won’t get back on. Think of home. Do it for them. Crying again. How can I do this? How?

    Pass Bareges. Time is running out and I know it. People in bits at the roadside. Thousands already eliminated. Men weeping. Me amongst them. Still riding. 9km to go.

    Then it’s over. Race Control pass and wave me down. Out of time. 5 miles from the summit they’ve caught me. Stop. Climb off. Fall down. Cry. Scream. Kick bike. Hate Look pedal cleats. You cost me a finish.

    Coach arrives and we climb aboard. Stories traded. Doctor needed for some. Not enough liquid. I’ve done 19 600ml bottles and 12 gels. Madness.

    Arrive at La Mongie. Look enviously at those with finish medals. What might have been. Wait for bike on truck. Never want to see it again. Feel empty. Nothing.

    Walk up to find Trek boys. Rob’s left for Pau to get our car. He finished, what an effort. 8hrs 42m. Elated that he did it.

    Horrible wait to get off the mountain. 3 hours to get back to Lourdes. Back to hotel at 12.30am. Shower, bed, sleep. Don’t wake. Dreaming of a finish.

    Monday – breakfast, need to eat. Moods have lifted. Trek boys leave for UK. We head back to house in Bazugues. Home, unpack, sleep more. Lunch, sleep. Talk about what happened. Feel like I’ve let Rob down. Didn’t make it. So close. Dinner with friends that night. John, Tina, Lori and Lucas. Lots of beer, laughs and great food. Thank you so much.

    Tuesday – break down bikes. Pack. Leave for Toulouse. Arrive at Gatwick at 7pm. Home for 9pm. Hugs. Glad to be home.

    Already want to do it again.

  31. @Guy
    I’m close to crying just reading this. Outstanding effort – and excellent reportage. Thanks for sharing it.

  32. @Guy Just epic Guy and thank you for giving it the perspective that we would all (I mean those of us not racing full time) have. So now we know what to expect! Just one other thought and that is you did more than most with the mechanical you suffered and therefore made it even if you did not “win” no stinkin medal!

  33. @ Guy: thanks for the report. Sounds incredible! Congrats on the ride. I would love to do it sometime.

  34. @Guy
    Mate, what an amazing story. Christ that sounds amazing! What is wrong with us that we hear these tales of men weeping with pain on their machine and we say, “Cheers, count me in next year!”

    And you’ve got it just as bad: you actually did it and already you want to do it again next year. You’re a sick bloke.

    Great story!

  35. @Guy

    Good effort Guy. I’m sure we can get some sort of dispensation for the mechanical. I have a friend that did the Etape a few years ago and he had the opposite of the heat. He had no cold weather gear because the forecast said sunny and hot. It was 40f (4-5c) and raining. He was miserable. He said that weaving through the fallen bodies on the climb was like riding through a Civil War battle field.

  36. Thanks and here are my changes with the least penalties if I get the rules? And if I don’t sink me anyway, I am depressed cause I want to put Andy first but I think that I would screw myself and anyway the Spaniard will probably be the man to beat…

    1. Armstrong
    2. A. Schleck
    3. Contador
    4. Gesink
    5. Horner

    Change to:
    1. Contador
    2. A. Schleck
    3. Menchov
    4. Gesink
    5. Horner

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