Coaches' Blog

Coach Ainslie

Today was the kind of racing I like to see! Aggressive, unpredictable and exciting! There were multiple breakaways the yellow jersey was on the attack and the peloton was split into multiple groups. The final acceleration by Steve Cummings with Dimension Data put the final nail in the coffin for the breakaway and he managed to stay clear to the line swooping down the descent and crossing the line arms aloft! What a race!

After a barrage of attacks, a lage group or 29 men went clear. All the teams were represented in the breakaway so the main field let them have their head and they took it and ran. Out of that group came a group of three who were joined by Cummings shortly before the start of the Col d"Aspin. Cummings managed to shake his pursuers near the base of the climb and he went up the climb at a surprising rate. TV commentary noted that Cummins had been left off the British Olympic team and that this was potentially a statement to British Cycling. 

The yellow jersey, Greg Vanavermaet managed to stay out in no-mans land and arrive to the line on his own. He even gained time over the main field and extended his lead. Vanavermaet is considered more of a one day racer and the prevailing thought is his time in the jersey will be limited. I think, however, he's going to make the most of his time in yellow. Its a rare honor for any cyclist to wear the maillot Jaune and most find themselves highly motivated with yellow on their shoulders. 

The race favorites finished close together with minimal fireworks. The big guns are keeping their powder dry a bit longer. The major shake-ups are still to come and riders like Froome, Quintana and Contador are going to wait for their opportunities that are yet to come. 

A notable race happening was that the inflatable 1km inflatable banner came down on top of the main field. One of the Orica riders took a hard spill as a result and the rest of the group got held up. The race jury awarded the riders all the same time so there was no change in the GC even though there was a hold up. 

Tomorrow brings an 183km stage with 4 nasty climbs. The first is the Col du Tourmalet followed by 3 additional bits of nastiness. This is where we'll see the climbers and GC favorites come out to play. Look for Froome, Quintana, Contador and Roman Bardet with the AG2R to animate the race. The first climb appears at 67km. There will be the early breakaway that will try to arrive to the base of the climb with enough of an advantage to stay away for the duration. My feeling is that its unlikely that a break will succeed.

Look for a name rider to win the stage either solo of in the presence of a small group. 

Coach Ainslie

Another victory for Cavendish today! In another group gallup to the line Cav and Kittel arived togeher but this time Cav had a bit more decisive advantage than his last finish against Griepel. 

The stage saw another early day long breakaway. Two men escaped the peloton and spent their time off the front in front of the cameras. They split the intermediate sprints evenly and then, predictably, were gobbled up with about 20km to go. The main field was under the escort of BMC, Sky and Movistar, all looking out for their team leaders. The pace was relatively sedate until the wind up for the final sprint. In the final, Direct Energie led the charge trying to set up Coquard for the finish.  Cav was able to surf the wheels and outsprint the others. Interestingly enough, Coquard did not feature in the podium spots. 

With Vanavermaet now in yellow it presents a bit of a conundrum for the BMC squad. It takes the pressure off Tejay Vangarderen. But, it also means that the team willl have to patrol the field and keep tabs on the race. This will potentially cost them energy that will need to be spent later in the race in the defense or Vangarderen or Porte. Cool white bikes too!

Tomorrow brings a 162km stage that has the famed Col d'Aspin near the end. Its late in the race and the preceding kilometers will soften up all the riders. As per usual we can expect to see a small breakaway try to get to the final climb with enough of an advantage to stay away. However, my prediction is that the climbers will come out to play. With a bit of a descent to the finish I think we'lll see a whittled down group of the overall GC favorites arrive together.

Did you notice the 3rd place finisher today with the Fortuneo squad? A british rider with the small team went to the line with the big boys. Keep your eyes on him in any stage that could end in a sprint. 

(Graphic is tomorrows stage, from Cyclingnews.com. I don't own this pic)

Coach Ainslie

 

 

Gefeliciteerd! Or Félicitations à vous! Thats how you say congratulations in Flemish or French! Belgiums Greg Vanavermaet won todays stage at the Tour de France today. He was in a day long break away that he eventually attacked to finish on his own. Vanavermaet is a rider I really admire and I was happy to see him take the stage today.If you recall, his breakaway companion was Thomas De Gent who gained popularity after being hit by a race vehicle and flying into a barb wire fence and then go on to finish despite significant wounds. 

Todays parcous had a nasty climb no too far from the finish and if the TV coverage is anything to go by, it was a death march wiith Movistar and Sky Pro Cycling keeping the pace high on the lead in to the finish. Vanavermaet left De Gent with 10mi to go and his effort was evident on his face in the closing kilometers. 

All the overall favorites had a quiet day today. Yellow jersey Peter Sagan detonated on the final climbs and conceded his yellow jersey to Greg Vanavermaet. He'll definitely be back in action at whatever sprint stages present themselves. Contador, Froome, Quintana, Roelandts, Vangarderan and Valverde all kep their powder dry today. Their saving their efforts for the looming mountains and time trials. 

Tomorrow's stage has a bumpy intro but smooths out on the run in to the finish. I predict we'll see a sprint finish again among the sprint favorites. The early breakaway will give it a go but the teams will reel them in near the end. Look for the sprint favorites to show up near the finish. 

Thanks for reading!





Félicitations à vousFélicitations à vous
Coach Ainslie

 

Herzliche Glückwünsche!

That's how you say congratulations in German. Marcel Kittel edged Bryan Coquard for the win today in the Tours longest stage. After, once again, reviewing the photo finish, it was judged Kittel had won the stage. I always find it remarkable after 5 or 6hrs of racing the win comes by a matter of millmeters. 

The peloton once again took a relaxed approach to the stage. Knowing that there were 232km on tap they conserved their energy until the closing kilometers. As usual there was an early breakaway and these men gave it their best to make a go of it. They hung on until the very end but, as we could expect in the first week, the break was gobbled up in the closing kilometers. 

In the lead up to the finish the teams all established their lead out trains. Orica/Greenedge, Tinkoff/Saxo, Etixx/Quickstep, Lotto/Soudal and even the Direct Energie boys all gave it their best but in the end Kittel timed it to perfection. Coquard came away with 2nd and the rest of the boys were all present and accounted for at the finish.

This is all typical first week stuff. The race favorites are doing their best to stay out of trouble and keep all the skin on their butts. The first week is typically nervous and it is imperative to stay out of trouble. Contador is nursing his wounds, Porte is conferring with his team personel and all the riders will be analyzing the upcoming stages for where they can gain an advantage. 

Thanks for reading!......Ainslie

Herzliche Glückwünsche

Coach Ainslie

Sorry for the delay in posting crew. I had the opportunity to announce a two day track race at the CO Springs Velodrome. Got caught up in the excitement but now I'll be able to get to it daily. I'm going to start with todays stage and we'll just pick it up as of today.

Today saw a lone rider with the french Fortuneo squad attack at kilometer one and get joined by Thomas Voeckler later in the day. The main field took a somewhat relaxed approach to the race today riding slowly in the opening stages. In the last hour the teams of the sprinters started to come to the front and set up the lead out trains. Cavendish, Kittle, Griepel, Bryan Coquard with Direct Energie and Peter Sagan all had their people on the front and this spelled out the demise of the breakaway with 8km to go. On the finish line it was a photo finish between Griepel and Cav. After extensive review, the victory was awarded to Cavendish. Griepel came away 2nd, Sagan in 3rd and Coquard with Direct Energie in 4th. Sagan retains yellow, Cavendish in green.

Tomorrow brings the longest stage of the race at 232km. The race profile appears to be relatively flat but, as Christian Vandevelde noted in the commentary, the race book frequently is not entirely accurate. The final km's are a bit bumpy and this could be advantageous for a breakaway. It may also eliminate the pure sprinters. I think with the form that Sagan is on, it wouldn't be out of the question to see him contest the finish. 

In the last 3 days we saw Contador on the ground twice. While he has no significant injuries, crashing beats you up and he can expect to be sore for the remainder of this opening week. We also saw Richie Porte with BMC have a flat yesterday and a subsequent slow wheel change that cost him 1min 45sec. This doesn't sound like much but, it'll be difficult for him to find that time because the other riders know he's a threat to the overall. 

I think its reasonable to expect Sagan and the Tinkoff/Saxo team to try and hold onto the yellow jersey for the rest of the week. Every day in yellow there is a cash bonus so, even if you can't wear it all the way to Paris, it pays (literally and figuratively) to hang onto the jersey as long as possible. The only hitch in this plan is that every day the Tinkoff guys defend the jersey wears them out. With Contador eyeing the overall this will create a bit of concern for their team management about what their priority should be. 

Happy July 4th everyone!

Coach Ainslie

The 2016 Tour de France is here! I don't know about you but my world grinds to a halt in July. This year it'll be August too because of the Olympics. 

The top favorites have all returned to the Tour to test their fortunes. It will be a hotly contested race and I, for one, am interested to see how things materialize. We can look to Team Sky's Chris Froome, Tinkoff/Saxo's Alberto Contador and Movistars Nairo Quintana to animate the race once we get into the hard stuff.

I also believe that this year Thibault Pinot with FDJ will compete for the podium. Similarly, I think Tejay Vangarderen with BMC will be a podium contender. I don't think either of these men are yet capable of a Tour win, however, given the right circumstances they could certainly step up. Pint has improved every year and I will venture to say last year was not a flash in the pan. Tejay is done "apprenticing" and now is the time to assert himself as a tour contender. To justify his salary he'll have to start to deliver.

As with every year, there will be some new riders that emerge. I enjoy seeing this every year because it makes the race less predictable. I am curious to see how the riders at AG2R do. They have been knocking on the door the last several years and its perfectly possible that we could see one of the them step up to the podium. 

Similarly I expect big things out of Jurgen Roelandts with the Lotto Soudal team. He was there or there abouts more than once last year. 

I will try to blog my thoughts daily throughout the race and give you my insights and predictions. 

 

 

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