Cycling grand tours provide riveting TV

I’ve written here about my love of watching cycling grand tours on TV. There are three European grand tours – cycle races that, unbelievably, last for three weeks. The grand tour season begins with the Giro d’Italia, followed by the Tour de France, and ending with the Vuelta d’España.

The reason I’m writing about cycling is that Chris Froome yesterday won the Giro d’Italia in spectacular fashion. Froome is only the third man, after legendary pair Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, to hold cycling’s three most prestigious races at the same time.

The race was hugely exciting, with Britain’s Simon Yates wearing the leaders pink jersey for two weeks and winning three stages, only for him to run out of energy towards the end of the third week. My wife rolled her eyes when I said that I’d be glued to the TV for the Tour de France.

Le Tour wrap up: Surely it’ll have to be Sir Froomey

I’ve become so attached to the Tour de France on ITV4 that’ll I’m already thinking of ways of overcoming the withdrawal symptoms. So much so that I’ve stuff planned for tommorrow and a family away day on Tuesday. Should’ve broken the habit by then.

I say a Le Tour wrap up, well, there’s not much more to say. Chris Froome was imperious, and justly deserves his fourth win of the tour. My stage prediction was typically half correct – well, wrong really. Stating that Chris Froome would win was blindingly obvious. As to the Andre Greipel as the stage winner, he came in a distant second. Second isn’t first, so Greipel and his Lotto Soudal team came away empty handed from the tour.

British cycling is in a good place, the two in the middle of the photo are British, another Australian and Frenchman on the left.

Le Tour Day 21: Froooomeeey Day

Yesterday’s time trial in Marseille, stage 20 of the Tour de France, all but determined the final race positions.

I’d predicted Chris Froome as both the stage winner and to beat his challengers. Only half correct. Froome crossed the line in third place, just six seconds behind the winner, though soundly beating his challengers. It’s surprising to realise that Chris Froome has not won a stage on this years tour.

My final predictions,

  • Chris Froome to win the tour – stating the blindingly obvious
  • Who’ll win the final prestigious sprint to end the tour? The winner needs a committed team to deliver him to close to the finish. Team Lotto Soudal are that for team mate and sprinter, Andre Greipel.

Le Tour Day 20: My thoughts

Take a bow Tim. At long last a prediction of mine becomes fact. Yesterday’s stage 19 of the Tour de France was won by Edvald Boasson Hagen.

It was a quiet ride for the main protagonists, and the jersey holders, resulting in no changes to to the leaders positions. Meanwhile the breakaway group split with nine riders remaining for the last 10 kilometres or so, and that became a thrilling tactical battle. With Edvald Boasson Hagen in this group of nine  the motivation to cross the line first was his two second places in earlier stages, and that his team hadn’t had a stage win.

My thoughts for stage 20,

  • Stage 20 is a time trial, a discipline in which Chris Froome excels. Though with a lead of less than 30 seconds over his two main rivals, he can’t afford any mistakes. Froome’s advantage is that he’s the last to set off in the time trail, and will know what he has to do to win.
  • Chris Froome doesn’t have to win the stage, he just has to beat Bardet, Uran, and Aru.
  • I think Froome will try hard to win the stage.
  • Will he do it and win the tour? Yes, he will.

Le Tour Day 19: My thoughts

I’m a bit late with this, as had a Friday morning meeting. Never mind, I watched an absolutely riveting stage 18 of the Tour de France on ITV4 yesterday.

Gosh, I’m improving in my predictions. Stage 18 turned out pretty close to my thoughts. Yes, there were breakaways, though not that resulted in a stage win. The leaders of the tour stuck together right to the finishing line, with Romain Bardet coming across the line at the same time as Chris Froome. The loser on the stage was Fabio Aru,

It was a stage where Chris Froome could be said to have won the tour, as none of his competitors claimed the tour lead from him, and Saturday’s stage 20, being a time trial, is one where Chris Froome is the best in the Race.

My thought on stage 19,

  • There’ll be breakaways as this is the last stage where teams without a stage win to date can try for that win.
  • I still think Team Sky will want to control the race, maybe even releasing Mikel Landa to claim a podium place – difficult, but a reward for efforts ton the tour to date.
  • The major candidates must be Michael Matthews, a two stage winner so far, Andre Greipel whose team desperately needs a win, and Edvald Boasson Hagen who’s been very close to stage wins.
  • So, who? A sprinter for the win, and therefore Boasson Hagen is my pick.

Le Tour Day 18: My thoughts

Who knew that an uphill cycling race stage would be so exciting. Yesterday in the Tour de France the handful of leaders battled it out to gain time over their rivals. Some succeeded, some not.

The winner in yesterday’s brutal mountain stage was Primoz Roglic, an unheralded rider who raced solo up the final mountain and crossed the finish line over a minute ahead of the race leaders.

The race is now between three riders, Chris Froome the race leader, and two joint second place riders, Rigoberto Uran and Romain Bardet. The previous second place rider, Fabio Aru, lost time, and is now fourth.

My predictions yesterday weren’t too far out. But then we’re into the final stages of the race so one would expect the leaders to show.

My thoughts on Stage 18,

  • Today is the defining stage of the tour, where any weaknesses will be uncovered. The mountain top finish on a huge climb means that significant time can be lost or gained. See the stage profile below to see how harsh.
  • Chris Froome is my choice to remain the tour leader, though by what time margin I can’t imagine.
  • Maybe there’ll be a breakaway again today, though I can’t see anyone doing what Roglic did yesterday. Therefore, the finish will be like stage 17.

Le Tour Day 17: My thoughts

More excitement on the Tour de France yesterday. A well planned breakaway led by Team Sunweb, BMC Racing, and Dimension Data, and which Sunweb were the winners in the stage, with their rider Michael Matthews winning the stage.

Yet again my predictions were complete and total rubbish. Such failure won’t stop me from making foolish predictions for today’s punishing day in the mountains.

It’s obviously a stage for climbers. Who will prevail?

  • Chris Froome is looking strong, so I hope he’ll retain the lead of the race. It’s a hope, as his nearest competitors are just seconds behind him
  • Of the challengers, Romain Bardet looks also looks strong, and has a team full of confidence to support him
  • Rigoberto Uran is another who looks strong, thogh along with Fabio Aru are not supported by strong teams.
  • Therefore, my choice for rider of the day must come from Team Sky, and why not Chris Froome.