Le Tour de France 2017

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 13 Preview

Course:

Bastille Day often delivers displays of swashbuckling attacking from native riders at Le Tour de France, so an incredibly short 101km Stage 13 from Saint-Girons to Foix should only serve to act as a pressure cooker to accelerate the selection process. A trio of Category 1 ascents define the day, beginning with the Col de Latrape after only 25.5km of racing; lasting 5.6km with an average gradient of 7.3%. A brief passage down the other side of the climb leads to the opening sections of Col d’Agnes, a longer task at 10km from bottom to top, sustaining 8.2% for its duration. The subsequent descent could prove a useful springboard for attacks, swooping down to Massat and beginning the final climb of Stage 13 in the shape of the Mur de Péguère. Considered to be divided into two parts, the 9.3km challenge sees the first two thirds contested at gradients around the 7% mark, but the real leg breaking sections come in the concluding kilometres en route to the summit. Predominantly in double-digit figures for the final moments, sections even begin to rise closer to 20% during this hectic conclusion to the last climb of the day. With a long descent all the way into the finish at Foix, the battle for the day’s victory could prove to be more tactical than physical, with the last 30km expected to be played out by a group waiting for one another to pounce.

Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage 13 Preview

Contenders:

Dan Martin was impressive once again at this year’s race during yesterday’s finale, doing extremely well to stay with the major general classification riders, only coming up short of the win in the few hundred metres before the line. If he can sustain this level of condition for another day in the mountains, then the long descent down to Foix has the potential to bring the race back together and allow the big names to decide the outcome; from which Martin would be hard to match in a sprint.

Rigoberto Uran offers a similar story to that of Irishman Dan Martin, though has certainly proven to be a greater surprise amongst the group of yellow jersey hopefuls, after failing to show much of the form which previously secured him podium placings at the Giro d’Italia. A proficient descender, Uran will look to bridge over to any frontrunners on the final downhill section and hope to secure another stage victory by beating the opposition in a sprint once more.

Romain Bardet took his third career stage victory at Le Tour de France yesterday and proved to be another correct prediction by Spokenforks during 2017’s race. Though unlikely for him to win back to back days, this course should offer him the chance to apply some pressure to the likes of Fabio Aru and Chris Froome, doing so with his brilliant downhill riding in the final 30km of the day. Struggling to match those with a more convincing burst of speed for a finish like today’s in Croix, Bardet would need to arrive solo in order to chalk up his fourth win at his home grand tour it seems.

Chris Froome is expected to be out for revenge on Stage 13, yet it more likely to utilise his teammates to act as a foil and defend his current position on the general classification by neutralising the stage early on. Regardless, he has recently proven to be one of the most competent descenders in the leading group and could call upon this skill to distance his rivals en route to gaining some time back. He is also capable of producing a reasonably fast sprint when required, so will be one to watch if the yellow jersey group are first into Foix.

Warren Barguil should perform strongly on Stage 13 in order to defend his hold upon the polka dot jersey and could go one step further by securing a famous French win on Bastille Day at the end of it all. He has been strong thus far and has only been distanced by the likes of Chris Froome when having already spent his efforts pursuing King of the Mountains points earlier in the day. A two time stage winner at La Vuelta a España, he previously took victory by pushing hard on a long downhill road into the finish line, similar to what we may expect to see today.

Other names to watch for are Mikel LandaPierre Latour, Jarlinson PantanoTiesj Benoot and Serge Pauwels.

Outcome:

1st Warren Barguil 2nd Rigoberto Uran 3rd Dan Martin

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Le Tour de France 2017

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 8 Preview

Course:

Stage 8 sends the peloton on an 187.5km through the first barrage of Alpine climbs during this year’s Tour de France, starting in Dole and finishing atop Station des Rousses. The battle to make the day’s breakaway is expected to be a fierce one, as the bunch are likely to be happy allowing a large move to vanish up the road and decide the day’s outcome. The first recognised ascent of the day is the Category 3 Col de la Joux, lasting 6.1km with an average gradient of 4.7% and providing a chance to loosen the legs ahead of what lies ahead. A relatively long descent follows, leading to the base of the Category 2 Côte de Viry, 7.6km and with an average of 5.2%.  Th terrain remains lumpy for a time after this, before dropping down once again and beginning the ascent to the final run into Station des Rousses. The Category 1 Montée de la Combe de Laisia Les Molunes is the springboard towards the day’s finish, an 11.7km rise which sustains a draining incline between 6% – 8%, though softens after the summit into rolling terrain all the way to the finish.

Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage 8 Preview

Contenders:

Diego Ulissi has always had a gift for making the cut for stages where his great turn of pace is capable of burying the majority of the peloton in a reduced sprint to the line. The Italian has stayed safe enough this far and will be fresh to battle it out amongst a highly competitive selection process to make the day’s breakaway. Typically speaking, Stage 8 is well within his capabilities to succeed upon, though it may come too early in the three week grand tour in order for him to really take it by the scruff of the neck. Regardless, if he does make the move early on, then it will be unlikely anyone faster than him will also be present amongst the escapees.

Stephen Cummings took a double win at the British Road Championships recently, arriving at Le Tour de France in unexpectedly strong form after recovering from a series of broken bones suffered earlier this year. The terrain lends itself perfectly to Cummings’ attributes and especially his gift for sustaining a high tempo throughout these rolling days which slowly jettison members of the breakaway late on. The final climb is bound to entice him to attack over the summit, before then settling into a time trial approach, soloing his way to the line in order to secure the stage win.

Nicolas Edet is partial to joining the break on stages which finish uphill, so will no doubt be interested to see how the opening kilometres unfold, potentially seizing upon the chance to smuggle himself within a move. A strong climber, Edet knows that a convincing performance here has the potential to deliver him more than a stage victory, as the yellow jersey itself is only just a little over four minutes beyond his reach.

Rigoberto Uran will be fully aware of how close he is to securing the maillot jaune right now, as a bold move to join the day’s breakaway would only need him to finish more than a minute ahead of Chris Froome in order to step into the leader’s jersey. It seems that Team Sky are willing to relinquish their grip and see another team shoulder the burden of protecting its prestigious status. Uran might struggle to find the freedom to escape from the start, so if the day proves harder than expected, he might be given permission to try and catch his rivals napping on the final ascent.

Daniel Martin should be the man to beat if the day is determined by an elite group of big name riders, though the general classification focused teams are unlikely to want the task of chasing the breakaway down with such a testing day awaiting them on Sunday. Regardless, the Irishman is clearly enjoying some brilliant form currently and would be bitterly disappointed to see it go to waste if crossing the line in Paris without a stage win to his name.

Serge Pauwels may fancy a day in the break on Stage 8, as Team Dimension-Data turn their attention away from the sprint stages to the mountains for the first time at this year’s tour. The Belgian rider has a strong record for performing well in breaks at major races, though often comes unstuck due to his lack of speed in a head to head charge for the line; something which may deter him from chancing his arm on the road to Station de Rousses. A strong climber, he will look to simply ride his rivals off his wheel during the final ascent of Montée de la Combe de Laisia Les Molunes.

Pierre Latour will need to come to terms with being the greatest hope of a French tour winner in the foreseeable future, so a stage victory and the likelihood of taking the maillot jaune would only serve to apply even greater pressure. The terrain does play to his strengths reasonably well, though may not be tough enough to truly lure him out to join the moves on Stage 8. He sits less than 70 seconds back on Chris Froome at the moment, which could prove a great temptation to try a swashbuckling move late in the day if everything comes back together on Montée de la Combe de Laisia Les Molunes.

Gianluca Brambilla should be in the minds of many for stage honours, despite not showing a great deal of form to catch the eye during the season thus form. He possesses a potent blend of climbing skill and sprinting talent, lending himself perfectly to the rigours of Stage 8 today. Should he manage to be part of a race winning move, few will wish to work him in order to arrive at Station des Rousses with the Italian firmly placed upon their wheel.

Others to watch out for include Fabio FellineAlessandro De MarchiWarren Barguil and Alexis Vuillermoz.

Outcome:

1st Pierre Latour 2nd Rigoberto Uran 3rd Gianluca Brambilla

Spokies Awards 2015 – The Polls CLOSED

With the road racing season sinking back into hibernation until the new year, Spokenforks is now looking to YOU in order to end the year with the most important competition of all; the 2015 Spokies. During the coming weeks, we shall unveil a series of award categories, which we are opening up to the public, in order to decide who is worthy of a Spokies trophy this year. All of the awards from last year are once again up for grabs, but we would like to hear from you for suggestions of new awards, as well as contenders who you think we have not represented upon our various shortlists.

In order to share your ideas for 2015’s Spokies as the categories are announced, get in touch directly here in the comments section below, or simply tweet @Spokenforks with the hashtag #Spokies.


 

In the meantime, we shall start with one of the first categories upon any awards list at the end of 2015; which was the best grand tour this year? Beginning with the opening salvos of the Giro d’Italia which crowned a new winner almost everyday, to Chris Froome’s chokehold in France and onto the dramatic battle beneath the Spanish sun at the Vuelta a España acting as the final bookend to the year. If you are struggling to pick a winner, remember to click on the ‘highlights’ button beneath the nominee and refresh your memory before casting a vote.

 


Our second confirmed category of 2015’s Spokies is one of the most controversial likely to appear on this year’s list. A topic fiercely debated by all fans of cycling, a topic which instigates debate and divides many who dare to bring it into question. Simply put, which is the best team kit of 2015? The Notts County homage of MTN-Qhubeka perhaps? Or the eccentric print and brown shorts combination of AG2R La Mondiale? We have picked out our favourite four kits who we saw battling it out at some of this year’s biggest races, but if you do not agree with our choices, get in touch by leaving a comment below, or via twitter @Spokenforks using #Spokies, and we will add your champion to the nominations.

 


Award number three of 2015’s Spokies is a distilled concoction of the year’s most aggressive, fractious, and unpredictable of competitions; the one day race. Though associated predominately with the spring classics, these contests are scattered throughout the year and offer the broadest array of riders an opportunity to place their name into history. From the remote dusty white gravel roads which form Strade Bianche, to the utter cacophony which enveloped 2015’s World Championships in Richmond; these occasions provoke the most instinctive and ferocious racing of the season. Riders are all too aware how a moment’s hesitation at this level can leave them with a lifetime to rue their mistakes. So which of our selected one day races crowned its victor with the greatest glory in 2015?


From those with a burgeoning gift for the cobbled classics of Northern Europe, to the lithe limbed climbers who make the steepest of gradients appear effortless; plenty of fans will want their say as to the contenders for Hot Prospect 2016. The likes of Louis Meintjes, Julian Alaphilippe and Alexis Gougeard enjoyed a 2015 season which demonstrated their talent on some of the calendar’s biggest stages. Securing between them a Vuelta a España stage win, Tour de l’Eurométropole overall, a Liége-Bastogne-Liége runner-up and a top ten grand tour finish.

For others on the list, 2016 looks set to be the season which we see years of potential translate into big name victories. Belgium is eager to fill the void soon to be left by Tom Boonen, so a fifth place finish for Tiesj Benoot at Ronde van Vlaanderen this year has firmly stoked the public’s fires beneath him for 2016. Caleb Ewan’s turn of speed in a bunch kick has been no secret for a while now and 2015 saw him increase the calibre of his wins by taking Stage 5 at La Vuelta, while also picking up a raft of victories from Tour de Korea, Le Tour de Langkawi and many more from around the World.

Miguel Ángel López caught the eye when finishing fourth on the Rettenbachgletscher at Tour du Suisse, Tao Geoghegan Hart completed his much anticipated move to Sky after great showings in America, Mike Teunissen came close to turning his 2014 Paris-Tours Espoirs title into an elite win when making the top ten on his debut, Pierre Latour is developing an aptitude for lumpy week long races and Yves Lampaert totted up a series of performances to ignite yet further excitement from his Belgian fans after taking seventh in Paris-Roubaix.

Think we have overlooked the next big thing for 2016? Get in touch below, via @Spokenforks on twitter or by using #Spokies and we will add your champion to the public vote.