Coaches' Blog

Coach Ainslie

The Alp d'Huez didn't let us down with drama and great riding yesterday. Thibeau Pinot went on the attack and was able to hang on to the finish. This French rider has demonstrated he is a man for the future with his climbing ability and knack for reading the race. Nairo Quintana found the legs to give the rest of the GC men the slip and found his way into 2nd on the stage. Froome finished with enough time to hold the yellow jersey and he can rest easily knowing tonight that he will win the Tour after the parade into Paris tomorrow.

Today, the rain in Paris meant that the stage was essentially neutral with the time being taken on the 1st pass of the finish line on the Champs Elysses. Race etiquette dictates that you don't attack before you hit the circuits so the initial part of the race was ceremonial. 

However, after the 1st lap was complete it was game on! 3 men went clear immediately, most notably Rohan Dennis found his way into the break. If you'll recall from 3 weeks ago, Dennis won the prologue. It was an exciting possibility that he would book-end the Tour. 

The teams of the sprinters took control very shortly after this and it was never meant to be for a breakaway. Lotto-Soudal, the team of Andre Greipel hit the front and the rest of the sprint men lined up behind them. In the closing meters though it seemed that Alexandre Kristoff and Katusha had pulled one over on the Greipel but the big German (Greipel) found his way to the front with a last minute surge and unloaded another sprint to take the win. Sagan and Cav got swamped and could only hang on for 7th and 6th respectively. 

So, this Tour is over and Chris Froome takes out his 2nd win. Sky did well to only lose one man on the way to Paris and he rolled across the line arm in arm with his teammates. It was a picture-perfect moment and one the riders will remember forever. 

Quintana took home the best young rider jersey. As he matures we may see him on the top step in Paris yet.

Sagan accumulated enough points in the sprint competition that his lead was never in danger today. He took the podium to put on the final green jersey of the race and at 25, I think we can all agree he's got a bright future.

Roman Bardet sealed the deal with the Mountains jersey yesterday on Alp d'Huez and he got to take the podium and the flowers as the best climber in Paris today.

The 2015 Tour de France is 3,360mi long. In honor of the race you can purchase my entire library of books and videos for $33.60.

You can also follow me on Twitter = GTS_Coach_Ace

Coach Ainslie

Sorry I missed you guys last night. As you might expect, with 2 kids and kid sports etc, didn't have a chance to dig into the old blog til today.

Exciting day yesterday. Lots of fireworks as the men occupying the lower spots on the GC tried to unseat Chris Froome. Attacks came on all fronts from Contador, Nibali and Quintana but, Froome responded each time with confidence bourne of knowing he is only a couple days away from a Tour victory. 
The day was particularly exciting for the French with Roman Bardet (AG2R-LeMondiale) taking the win and his country-man Pierre Roland finishing behind him. The French riders have been looking for their opportunity and yesterday was it!

Today saw a brilliant attack from Nibali. However, there is now some controversy about whether or not there was a breach of etiquette as his attack right at the moment Froome was having a mechanical issue. Nibali stormed to the finish with time to spare (over a minute!). Quintana came next. Both men took a bit of time out of Froome but, barring anything unexpected or unusual, Froome should ride into Paris in yellow. I'll leave it with the pundits to decide if Nibali misunderstood the situation or deliberately targeted a weak moment.

Tomorrow is the last big challenge for the riders. If Quintana or Valverde are going to inch closer to the lead, Saturday will have to be the day as its considered poor form to attack the leader on the final day. Tomorrow dishes up two big climbs. The Col de la Croix de Fer and the famed Alp d'Huez. Both of the climbs will sort out the field in a hurry. You can lost some pretty significant time on a day like this and the favorites will have to be wary of each other. All Froome really needs to do is follow his rivals. I think what we'll most likely see, of course, is Quintana, Valverde, Nibali and Contador continue to try and find time. Its unlikely that any of them can move to the top step of the podium, but it is in the realm of possibility that the lower steps could change. 

Its been an exciting 3 weeks and we're not there yet. Only the finish into Paris will tell the tale and I for one can't wait to see what happens!.....Ainslie

The 2015 Tour de France is 3,360mi long. In honor of the race you can purchase my entire library of books and videos for $33.60.

You can also follow me on Twitter = GTS_Coach_Ace

Coach Ainslie

The Tour is a cruel mistress. Today she withdrew her favor from Tejay Vangarderen as he abandoned about 40km into the race. Race coverage showed Tejay losing contact with the group on one of the early climbs. He was clearly running on empty and a statement later released by team BMC indicated that he was sick with cold-like symptoms. You have to feel for the guy. Going into the rest day yesterday he was holding down 3rd place in the Tour and today, couldn't push the pedals. Tejay has youth on his side and he will be around for many more Tours de France.

SImon Geschke had fabulous day today! Despite not being a specialist climber, he gambled on attacking his breakaway companions and was able to hold off the field for a fine win. After riding in a large breakaway that struggled to get itself organized, Geschke put in his attack at the bottom of the 2nd to last climb. And to think Geschke was a last minute call up because Marcel Kittel was ruled out of the team. 

Froome still sits atop the GC with Quintana in 2nd. With the absence of Tejay, Alejandro Valverde moves into the 3rd spot followed by Froome's leuitenant Geraint Thomas in 4th. Behind him in 5th lies Contador. I think at this point, the podium is probably solidified. Quintana has not shown the spark required to move any further up the podium. However, I think we could see Contador unseat Thomas with the amount of climbing that is left this week. Contador may be on the back foot, but we can always count on him to throw in an attack. Thomas has been working for Froome for 2 weeks now, I have to believe that he is getting tired. 

The 2015 Tour de France is 3,360mi long. In honor of the race you can purchase my entire library of books and videos for $33.60.

You can also follow me on Twitter = GTS_Coach_Ace

Coach Ainslie

I have seen a number of crashes in cycling over the years but today that crash with Geraint Thomas was absolutely amazing. The fact that he got up and got back into the race is stunning. Nobody could have blamed him for quitting right there. AND, he was able to maintain a sense of humor about it. When medics asked him his name, he immediately replied "Chris Froome" with a smile on his face! 

The GC men had a quiet day today with no changes in the overall. Today the breakaway had their day and Italian rider Ruben Plaza with the Lampre/ Merida team managed to hang on the longest. It was the first Tour de France win for the 35yr old man. Well deserved for a man who has such considerable experience!

Peter Sagan built his points lead more today by getting into the breakaway and coming 2nd at the finish. This is a rider for the future as well as the present. Sagans lead in the sprint points green jersey is virtually unassailable now and barring something unusual he'll wear it all the way to Paris.

Tomorrow is the 2nd rest day. The riders will take this time to clean up their wounds, get some rest and assemble their strategy for the remaining stages. The riders will collect themselves, get re-centered and re-energized. The race starts in the Alps on Wednesday and the GC men will be back in the spot-light. Tejay Vangarderen is now in 3rd on the GC with Quintana in 2nd and Froome in yellow. Unseating Froome will be a difficult task but, I think the potential exists for Tejay to displace Quintana. 

The 2015 Tour de France is 3,360mi long. In honor of the race you can purchase my entire library of books and videos for $33.60.

You can also follow me on Twitter = GTS_Coach_Ace

 

Coach Ainslie

The sprinters had their day again today with Andre Greipel winning the stage in a 4-up drag race with Alexder Kristoff, John Degenkolb and Peter Sagan. Surprisingly, Mark Cavendish was nowhere to be found at the finish today. He has indicated that he is starting to rest his legs in anticipation of winning in Paris next Sunday. My opinion is its a little early to be preparing for a stage that is 5 races away. To be frank, I wonder if Cav will make it all the way to Paris. Any way you slice it, Greipel is absolutely on fire right now and this is his year to shine.

The GC faves sat tight in the group today with no changes in the overall. This day was all about the sprinters and it was up to the GC men to stay out of trouble. The course lent itself to a sprint finish with the climbs coming too early in the stage to influence the outcome.

Tomorrow brings a 201km stage with a steadily upward profile. The race takes in two particularly nast climbs but finishes with a long descent to Gap. We should see the GC men ever-present at the front and keeping a close eye on each other. I don't think the stage will be hard enough to see any serious movement in the overall. 

Tejay Vangarderen was interviewed today and indicated that he is looking forward to this week AFTER the rest day. He indicated that he feels the next phase of the race is suited to his capabilities and this could be where we see him try and move into the top step of the podium. However, with this said, right now all Froome and Quintana have to do is stay near each other and their places are relatively safe. IF only it was that easy though. I expect fireworks among the climbers with Valverde and the French riders with AG2R animating the proceedings. 

In regards to Peter Sagan, he has yet to win a stage at this Tour. I think Sagan has realized that in order to take this green sprint jersey to Paris, all he has to do is be there or there-abouts. Additionally as I said yesterday, I think what we're witnessing with his sprint is a man moving from a sprinter to a stage racer. In order to go uphill well and improve his time trialing, Sagan necessarily has to give up a little sting on his sprint.

The 2015 Tour de France is 3,360mi long. In honor of the race you can purchase my entire library of books and videos for $33.60.

You can also follow me on Twitter = GTS_Coach_Ace

Coach Ainslie

Brilliant win today for Steve Cummings with the MTN/Qhubeka squad. He managed to give his breakaway companions the slip inside the final km and win with arms aloft. This was also an historic moment since it is the first time a South African team has won a stage at the Tour (much less participated in the Tour!)

The real story today, however, was that Tejay Vangarderen lost a  spot on the GC and moved into 3rd overall behind Nairo Quintana. The little Columbian rider threw down attack after attack today in an effort to unseat Froome. His efforts had little effect on Froome but they did act to unhitch Contador, NIbali and Vangarderen. 

The Tour takes a new shape for these three riders today as we are now past the 1/2 way point. Tejay will have to reformulate his strategy and look for a day where he can try to take back time. In the case of Nibali and Contador, I think they can now only consider stage wins since any real hope for the over-all is gone. They both have consistently lost time and its my feeling that compared to the current top three, they just don't have either the fitness or time left.

Tomorrows stage starts out immediately with climbing. The riders will take in some nasty gradients in the opening stages. The race finishes with a long descent and then flat stretch to the finish. In theory, this will give any riders who were dropped an opportunity to get back on. I think its too much for the sprinters to contest but we should see the leaders and men like Roman Bardet, Peter Sagan, Greg Vanavaermat or a rider like Steve Cummings. 

The 2015 Tour de France is 3,360mi long. In honor of the race you can purchase my entire library of books and videos for $33.60.

You can also follow me on Twitter = GTS_Coach_Ace

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