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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
TdF '21 Discussion Thread Stage 11 Jul07 SPOILER ALERT

Ventoux. Twice. Ven-deux.

This is a 120-mile mountain stage. There are three climbs, with the second and third being one of the show-stopping epic climbs, and set up to be harder the second time round, then an extensive downhill with a very brief flat but curving run-in of about a mile to the finish line.

Sprinter points will be dispatched early, at 24 miles. Then, again all but the climbers may be seeking the comforting glow of the Lanterne Rouge. To wrap up that topic, it seems very likely again that a sprinter group finishing within the time parameter will be an issue. Many know this, but some do not: for each stage, once the winner crosses the line, a time limit is set for 15% more of the finishing time - if you do not finish within that time window, you are eliminated from the race entirely. So, if the winner finishes in 4 hours, that is 240 minutes, 15% is 36 minutes: all must finish by 4 hours 36 minutes or be eliminated.

Most of the time, a trailing group is fine to go as slow as possible to be just a couple minutes before this cutoff. They usually are not at risk of being eliminated, they are just taking all the time they have at hand. However, on Stage 09 a few days ago, with a furious GC contest up front, Cavendish was not even hanging with this trailing caboose pack, trailing them by a minute and barely making the cutoff time, and in obvious tears after that hard day. A couple dozen riders did opt to be eliminated rather than to keep the pace in that cold, rainy, rambunctious stage.

So, along with seeing the degree that Pogacar might be threatened, and seeing epic mountain riding, one detail to watch on Stage 11 is who makes this time cutoff.

The Climbs. The riders have a fairly smooth start, out to 50 miles. They then ascend about 600 meters to the first peak, Liguiere. They then have a gentle descent to Sault, which kicks off the first of two climbs of Ventoux for today. They will climb Ventoux, apporaching from the east, with 15 miles of climbing to the peak of Ventoux, then descend to the town of Malaucene, at the 9-o'clock position on the day's loop of Ventoux. From there, they will continue, counter-clockwise, for about 8 miles in the valley to the south of Ventoux, around to climb it again. This time, not approaching from a 3-o'clock spot somewhat at elevation, but from this valley, beginning the steady climb from a 7-o'clock position around to six o'clock then arriving back at the road they first came in on, at the 3-o'clock position, and riding this climb of Ventoux again. So, on the second climb of Ventoux, they begin at a lower elevation, thus making this second climb of Ventoux a bit more painful. This second climb is shorter, at about 13 miles, versus 15 miles, but is steeper in the initial few miles as they begin climbing out of the valley.

Once they crest Ventoux this second time, they again descend the 13 miles to Malaucene. Instead of just passing by this town, they make a sharp right turn in for a final mile or so, in a broad right hand sweep to the town center.

So, what to watch? The main focus will be to see how riders perform on the first climb. Who is hanging on and whose team is really pulling them over the mountain, and who is done. Really, the same for the second climb, but this will really separate out the GC contenders more. Some will certainly fail to respond to attacks. Some will crack and be out of contention. One or a few riders may have a good day and rise in the overall GC standings a lot.

A non-threatening group may very well attack and leave off the front. This will be riders looking for one good day in the Tour, and decide to stretch their legs for this one. Many riders are so far down, they are not a threat to overall GC standings, and so will be allowed to break away off the front.

These guys, however, play a very big role for the GC contenders - they can be used to bridge ahead to get away from competitors or to catch competitors - and they very well may be all over the mountain. It gets very hard to follow who is ahead or behind, amongst all of the GC favorites, as they move up and back in relative position on these long climbs.

The following two stages are flat, so climbers can exert all the power they might have to exert, and recover on these next two days. There is not a mountain stage until Stage 15, then a rest day. So, there is a lot up for grabs here on Stage 11. Remember: all comments about how super-human any rider's performance might be (not to mention any names - which saved me the trouble of having to pronoun
480018
ce the name the right way) should be in the Doping Forum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
War of attrition. O'Conner falls from yellow jersey group. But there is the downhill - he may not lose much, if any.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am off in my guesstimations of how the day will unfold. There was not really any non-threatening group taking the day's stage while the GC guys mark each other at anything resembling a slower pace; the GC group was right on their heels. Pogacar, and other GC contenders, finished within two or three of the stage winners, van Aert, Elissonde, and Mollema.

So, there is no group of non-threatening riders who are good climbers for at least one day of a grand tour and can burn some matches for a day's glory, way in front of a group of riders having to budget their energy for the literal remaining half of the tour?

I guess not. Maybe these two upcoming flat stages encouraged the GC hopefuls to go ahead and ride hard for this stage. Maybe the two downhills down Ventoux, and the few miles in the valley between those climbs, provided plenty of opportunity for this GC group to stay within reach of the guys going for the single-day glory.

Maybe the good climbers were working to get their team's sprinters over the mountains. About a dozen riders finished within the final ten minutes allowed by the time cutoff.
 
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