Le Boss traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico, on July 3 to launch this year’s edition of THEMOVE, his daily podcast covering the 2019 Tour de France for Outside. If you tuned in to our recaps last summer, you know that, as commentators go, Lance Armstrong punches hard but seldom punches below the belt. And unlike the milquetoast play-by-play and punditry the networks deliver in their coverage—it’s tough to bite the hand that feeds—he’s not afraid to rip into Tour organizers, team managers, competitors, and drunk fans making a nuisance of themselves. Lance knows what plays. But with the help of his inquisitive non-cyclist sidekick, JB Hager, and the thoughtful (and better-looking) former pro George Hincapie, who brings a welcome calming influence to the show, the Redacted One also provides the most insightful Tour analysis we’ve seen.
Our coverage begins with a preview on July 5 and Stage 1 on July 6, then wraps up three agonizing, dramatic, bloodstained, and glorious weeks later on July 28. Live television does a decent job of showing you the race. But it takes Lance, George, and JB to explain what the hell just happened.
Stage 12: Simon Yates Executes a Miraculous Win, Lance Frets About the Lack of Fireworks, Rohan Dennis Bows Out Mysteriously, and Julian Alaphilippe Should Hold Yellow Tomorrow
[The stage opened to a series of aggressive and exhausting breakaway attempts that saw as many as 40 riders off the front. But it finished with a sprint between three of the day’s strongest climbers. Adam Yates’ twin brother and super domestique at the Tour, Simon, took the win. Back in the field though, it was dullsville, with Team Ineos sitting on the front and the favorites resting their legs for tomorrow’s time trial.]
Simon Yates Executes a Masterful Win: Lance: Simon Yates [Mitchelton-Scott] now has a rare trifecta. He’s won a stage in all three Grand Tours. That’s a huge accomplishment. British Cycling doubted the Yates brothers early in their careers. That was a mistake.
George: The team owner was in town watching the race. The team had a plan to put a bigger guy and a climber in the breakaway. It worked out perfectly.
Lance: Our one-time teammate Matthew White [race director for Mitchelton-Scott] is a damn good tactician. Is that your impression George?
George: He was a solid tactician on the bike when he was racing and he’s an even more astute tactician now. He was also one of the nicest guys in the peloton when he was racing.
Alaphilippe Holds Yellow on a Dull Day: [It was long forecasted that the Quick-Step phenom would lose the jersey on stage 12. That didn’t happen And neither did any GC attacks.]
Lance: It was 130 miles of racing and a big climb, but Alaphilippe holds onto yellow.
George: Today wasn’t as exciting as we were anticipating. We didn’t see the fireworks
Lance: Hopefully not foreshadowing of the days to come. But I’m worried about it. I said it yesterday, I’m going to say it again today. We’re spoiled. We’ve had 12 winners out of 12 stages. But I think we’re going to be disappointed in the end. Ineos controlled the pace today. The strength of Ineos relative to the course and the other racers is impressive, but it could make for some boring days ahead.
George: They had eight guys on the front at the end. That shows how strong they are.
What’s Up With Rohan Dennis? Lance: [The Bahrain-Merida rider] pulled out of the race today under mysterious circumstances. What do you make of it George?
George: It’s super odd. He was a favorite for tomorrow’s time trial and he was at the front of the race today mixing it up in the breakaways. We have no idea what happened. Nobody knows what happened. Why would you pull out after being so aggressive at the beginning of the stage? We’ll have to wait to confirm what happened.
JB: He was seen walking to the finish in street clothes.
Lance: I was just sent a quote from his team. “We saw Dennis at the side of the road. He did not want to talk. We were confused. Nothing is wrong with his physical condition. We asked him what was going on and he said he didn’t want to talk. He later abandoned the race. We are disappointed.” Obviously something is going on with the team.
George: He has left teams mid-season before. But this would be highly unusual.
[Here’s the team’s official statement: “Our priority is the welfare of all our riders so will launch an immediate investigation but will not be commenting further until we have established what has happened to Rohan Dennis. Meantime we continue to support our riders who are mid-race.”]
Why No Fireworks?: Lance: Again, I’m worried.
George: The start was aggressive with 40 guys away. That was a lot of stress for the GC guys. Once the break was established, I’m sure the GC guys were saying ‘I need to conserve for tomorrow.’ It’s a shorter time trial. But even short time trials can be decisive.
Lance: I’m not sure why nobody attacked, but I will agree that tomorrow is going to be decisive. Whatever dynamic is happening between Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal in their co-leader roles with Team Ineos, we’ll have more clarity tomorrow. I don’t think it’s a toxic deal, but it’s really will be decided by tomorrow’s time trial. If you’re Thomas and you put 30 seconds into your co-leader, and that’s what I’m expecting, that changes the dynamic. And by the way, Bernal will start third or fourth from last and Thomas will start second to last so Thomas will know what he needs to do. And I should also point out that Julian Alaphilippe has a minute and a half on Thomas. My prediction is that he keeps yellow.
George: And Alaphilippe was under zero stress today. He’ll be relatively fresh tomorrow.
Lance: If we would predict that in normal times he’d lose a minute to Thomas tomorrow, he’ll lose less than that with the yellow jersey on.
George: He could also get some moto-drafting love. He’s a French rider in yellow.
Lance: The lack of time trialing and the easier mountain stages work out well for Alaphilippe. It would be incredible for him to hold it through the mountains though. He’s done a lot of hard racing to get to this point. He’ll crack at some point.
Is Astana Losing Faith? George: Up until today they were putting the entire team behind their captain Jakob Fuglsang. Today they had riders in the breakaway. Maybe that’s a sign they have less confidence in Fuglsang.
Quick-Step Goes All In: George: Viviani [a sprinter] was on the front towards the end. You never do that with your sprinter unless you’re changing your tactics. They are all in for Julian Alaphilippe.
Patron of the Day: George: Viviani is my Patron. He wins for going to the front and working for the team. Sprinters rarely do that.
Lance: My Patron is Simon Yates. He rode flawlessly and stuck with the plan.
Listen to the full recap of stage 12 on THEMOVE here.
Listen to JB and Johan’s preview of Stage 13 on THEMOVE here.
Stage 11: Lance Never Got Hugs, Caleb Ewan Gets His, and 11 Winners in 11 Stages
[Finally a dull stage before the racing moves into the big mountains. But for Caleb Ewan of Lotto Soudal, the day was anything but boring. Caught behind a crash with 20 miles to go, he had to work his way back through the field and then wait for his moment to nip Dylan Groenewegen at the line.]
A Popular Winner: Lance: Caleb Ewan finally got the stage win after a relatively short, 104-mile stage. The winner always gets hugs from his team. But I’ve recently seen guys on other teams give the winners hugs. Caleb Ewan had two separate guys on other teams give him hugs. He must be a nice guy. I never got hugs.
George: I did... But Lance 3.0 deserves more hugs these days. He’s a much nicer guy. Ewan got stuck behind that crash with 30 kilometers to go. It’s hard to get back in position and win a stage after something like that.
Lance: One guy dropped back to help him, but fighting back to the field is an exclamation point on his victory.
George: Don’t try his sprinting technique at home. To get aero, his face is nearly touching his front wheel. That’s why his rear wheel slides around. But that position and style would be unsafe for anyone else.
Lance: He's aerodynamic, but he’s inefficient. He’s all over the bike. The less side-to-side body English you have, the more your energy is directed forward. He won today in a skinsuit, by the way. Nobody wore skinsuits in our day. You can equate that to watts.
George: I don’t know about your body positioning argument. For a sprinter it’s whatever is fast for you. He hesitated for a moment just before he went. Normally that ends your chances, but today it was to his advantage. [Because of his quick pause, Ewan was able to get in Groenewegen’s draft.]
Eleven Stages, 11 Winners: Lance: We’ve had 11 different winners in the first 11 days. That hasn’t happened in 25 years.
George: It’s incredible. And the sprints have all been decided by centimeters.
Is Quintana a Captain Without a Crew?: Lance: There was a big pileup when the peloton went into the trees near a town and the light changed. Quintana was stuck behind it. I bring that up because he signed a deal with Arkea-Samsic, an obscure French team. I think that’s a bad move for him.
George: It could be bad for his chances immediately. The Movistar riders might not be as incentivized to work for a rider that’s leaving a team.
Lance: Why did he do it? Dinero.
Will Climbing Specialists Make a Bid Tomorrow? [There likely won’t be a big shakeup in the overall, but with a big climb coming 20 miles from the finish, some climbers lower down in the standings could make a break for it. If they get caught, a reduced yellow jersey group could come to the line.]
Lance: We’ve been spoiled. This first half of the Tour had been very exciting with lots of winners, and lots of breakaways, and lots of attacks. And, although I hesitate to say this, that could mean that the second half might be boring in comparison. There aren’t any iconic climbs. The guys are tired. We’ll see Ineos take charge.
George: Waaah [whining noise]. Movistar is going to get much more aggressive now. It will be exciting.
Lance: We’ll see what Quintana leaving means for the team. Maybe [Quintana’s Movistar teammate Mikel] Landa gets a green light.
Lance: The top of the final climb is 20 miles to the finish. That distance neutralizes the final climb.
George: I’m assuming there will be a breakaway at the end and it will winnow down the peloton because of attacks. If a small yellow jersey group comes to the line, it’s an advantage to Alaphilippe.
Lance: I’m going to pick Vincenzo Nibali [2014 Tour de France champion and Bahrain-Merida super domestique this year]. His goals have changed. But if anyone can hold off the group on a climb and a descent, he can. He’s a dude with a chip on his shoulder because he took some blowback from the media for his form at the Tour.
George: I’m going with Alejandro Valverde. [Similar to Nibali, Valverde is a Grand Tour winner who is working for Movistar at this race. He also climbs and descends at an elite level.]
Patron of the Day: Lance: Caleb Ewan. Super excited for him.
George: Same pick for me. He’s been so close. He’s shown that he’s had the power and the speed but he’s just been slightly out of position. Sprinters are so emotional that they sometimes lose control when losses stack up. Getting a win today says a lot about his mindset as a bike racer. So tip of the hat to Calen Ewan.
Cooling Down: [Spinning on a trainer immediately after a race is now the norm. Only a few years ago, it was an anomaly.]
Lance: We would finish in the red zone and go right to the bus. No cooldown. In hindsight that was a mistake. We’re learning a lot about recovery these days.
George: A cooldown is reportedly a hundred times more effective than a massage after a race. My recovery was leaving dinner early. In my opinion, every second in bed was recovery time.
Listen to the full recap of Stage 11 on THEMOVE here.
Listen to JB and Johan’s preview of Stage 12 on THEMOVE here.
Stage 10: The Wind Wreaks Havoc, a Cyclocross Star Thumps the Sprinters, and Christmas Comes Early for Geraint Thomas
[It was predicted to be a day for the sprinters, but after 10,000 feet of gradual climbing on slow roads, a crosswind caught an ill-prepared and tired peloton and split the group into echelons. GC favorites like Thibaut Pinot, Jakob Fuglsang, Richie Porte and many more were caught out.]
The Patron of the Day Is The Wind: Lance: I’m going to make the wind the Patron of the Day for Stage 10. Just goes to show you that you can’t take a nap during the Tour de France. Lo and behold the Patron of the Day shows up, the trees are moving, the echelons form up, and a bunch of GC guys lost out.
George: The mental part of keeping your mind sharp is exhausting, but this was inexcusable. They knew the wind was a factor and half the field wasn’t in position.
Lance: Ten days of hard racing in and guys are just cracking. But the wind is also physical. It takes a ton of energy to get in the right place. Everybody was scrambling to figure out what happened afterwards. It happened during a commercial break during the TV coverage so it was hard to tell. It seems that the EF [Education First] team went to the front in the wind and their eyes were bigger than their stomachs. They were hammering on the front. And then the next thing we know we come back from a commercial break and they’re dropped.
George: EF went into the wind on the front, and my sources tell me that [team leader] Rigoberto Urán was already in the red zone. Ineos passed them and Quick-Step and that was where the split happened. Uran lost minutes. And they knew about the wind.
Lance: EF wasn’t the group to be in the front. They aren’t Ineos. They took the bull by the horns and got the horns. When people think about the Tour they think about the big climbs and the TTs. You don’t think about wind as much at the Tour like you do in the spring Classics, but I’ll explain it quickly. If the wind is coming from the right, everyone wants to be a little to the left behind the wheel in front of them. With that many riders though, you run out of road. Then you’re going in single file in a straight line and it snaps. It takes one guy that can’t hang and it snaps. A second echelon forms, but that second group of guys isn’t as strong. They’re there for a reason. And if you’re a team leader that got caught out, you’ll lose time.
George: If I saw a whole team together like Ineos was today I would immediately get my guard up. Somebody knows something. You have to be hyper alert. If you see the peloton splitting, you have to sprint full gas to stay on. But today they had the information and got screwed up anyway. Everybody knew the wind was coming so it became a question about who can get up there and work together. Guys were just cracking today. And other guys made up the kind of time they only could have prayed to make up in the mountains.
Lance: Christmas came early for Thomas. Also Nairo Quintana and Dan Martin [UAE-Team Emirates captain].
George: Some team directors are walking around with their chests puffed up, others are hanging their heads. Trek had a disaster day. They got the information over radio that there’s going to be some serious wind and the guys said ‘we’re good.’ And they went backwards
George’s Patron of the Day: [Today’s winner in a sprint finish among a reduced field was the three-time cyclocross world champ, Wout van Aert. He added win number four to Jumbo-Visma’s impressive stage count this Tour.]
George: We haven’t seen someone this young and talented in a long time. He’s 24 years old.
Lance: Don’t forget this kid ever. He’s a ’cross champion, he won a prologue time trial, and he won a sprint today.
George: We haven’t begun to see how good he is. Jumbo’s morale must be off the chart today.
Rest Day Hammering? George: It’s been incredible racing going on so far. They need that rest day tomorrow. I hope they can recover. Today was 10,000 vertical feet of climbing.
Lance: Shout out to Christian Vande Velde. He predicted that this would be one of the hardest Tours ever. I doubted him. But we’re not even in the Alps and Pyrenees yet and these boys are cracking. They've been racing every day.
George: Lance hated rest days, but he was a bit of a freak. I liked to chill out, recover. I embraced the rest day.
Lance: I’m always of the belief that the body has to stay turned on. That sounded weird. My belief was that you have to go out and hammer. You have to go hard. Stay in bed all day and you’re terrible the next day. We did two hours and dropped the hammer.
George: It’s true that if the following day starts uphill after a rest day, you can’t get your legs in the groove. It hurts.
Lance: Did hammering not work for us?
George: It worked. For you it worked. I got dropped on the rest day, but it worked.
Lance: [But Wednesday’s stage 11] actually looks like a perfect day for getting your legs back under you. If I was the team leader I might even take a full rest day tomorrow.
George: First hour is going to hurt. Ton of attacks.
Listen to the full recap of Stage 10 on THEMOVE here.
Stage 9: Kristin Armstrong Joins the Crew (After Towing Lance All Day), the Moto Controversy That Won’t Die, and Lance Admits He Has Skeletons in His Closet
[Today the show came out of Boise, where George held a gran fondo and three-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong joined the podcast.]
Lance: Today we’re honored to have Kristin Armstrong join us. My extraordinary domestique today. She hauled my ass on the entire gran fondo. George Hincapie has been replaced.
George: Lance had a hard time on the bike today. I’ve brought back Cranky. He’s been nice to me for 10 days. That’s over.
How’s Lance’s Fitness Right Now? [George and Lance are racing each other at the end of the month.]
George: My fitness is fourth and two on the goal line
Lance: I’m fourth and two on my goal line. I took a leak in the shower when I got home. That’s how tired I was. I nearly went to the hospital. It was bad.
Daryl Impey Gets The Stage: [The 34-year-old Mitchelton-Scott rider played the breakaway like a cagey veteran and won at the line.]
Lance: Daryl Impey is one of the nicest guys in the peloton. He was on RadioShack with us. If you like seeing nice people win, today was a good day.
George: Daryl did a great job. I sent the team a congratulatory note. They’d ridden that stage back in March and they picked it then for a win. It doesn’t work out much better than that in pro cyçling.
Kristin Weighs in on the Tour: Kristin: It’s been one of the more exciting Tours in the last years. It’s been so unpredictable, and I like unpredictable. I look forward to watching because of that. And we have two more weeks of this unknown with mountaintop finishes. I like that there isn’t a clear leader yet. It keeps me viewing. I used to fast forward so I knew who won, but now I’m watching.
Lance: As we said in the beginning, Froome and Dumoulin aren't here so it’s anybody’s race.
Kristin: I always have the hopes that the next American will come up and win, but right now they’re either injured or domestiques working hard. That makes me learn more about all the riders. Who can crack who.
These Huge Climbing Days Add Up: Lance: They did 9,000 feet of climbing today. Back to back to back. The man with the hammer is going to come for some of these guys pretty soon.
George: According to my sources, Alaphilippe is going to keep the jersey for a few more days but they’re going to rely on a few other teams to do it. QuickStep will get some help at the front
The Moto Controversy Returns: [There was much grumbling after yesterday’s stage that the French riders that attacked—Alaphilippe and Pinot—drafted off the camera motos driven by Frenchmen.]
Lance: Anytime there’s a Frenchman by a moto it’s going to generate a lot of buzz. Fuglsang was very critical. If they were motorpacing and they still couldn’t catch Thomas de Gendt [the stage winner] then more power to de Gendt.
Kristin: As a competitor you have to put it out of mind. I believe in karma.
George: If you attack first you’re going to get some moto love. That’s just a fact. And you better believe the attackers are relying on those motos to get them love on the way out of each corner. That’s when the drafting really helps. They’re timing their corners accordingly. I lost a podium at Paris-Roubaix because the guy in front of me got on the moto. I had really good legs but I could not close that gap. You remember those days.
Don’t Call it a Comeback: [Lance pressures Kristin Armstrong to come back for the next Olympic Games. JB questions whether comebacks are a good idea.]
Lance: No. But I’m pretty sure this woman doesn’t have half the shit in her closet as I had in mine. If you need a training partner, I’ll come up here and sit on your wheel for America. I also motorpaced today behind Kristin. All day. I’m not pulling. I made a video and put it on my Instagram. We’re going 28 she’s just rolling, calling out stuff in the road. Homegirl has three Olympic medals and she’s 45 years old. I’m saying the Tokyo Games. Yes or no.
Kristin: I can’t see that happening but I’ll drag you around whenever you want.
Johan Switches Favorites: George: Like we mentioned yesterday there was some tension with [Egan] Bernal not coming back for [Geraint] Thomas as he chased back on, but now Thomas clearly looks stronger.
Lance: I think Thomas is looking good, but he has this tendency to crash a little more than he should. I’m shocked that he’s this healthy after those falls.
George: I’m sticking with Fuglsang but I’m liking Lance’s pick [Thomas] more and more. I’m only seeing him getting better. And Ineos is one of the strongest teams in the race.
Condolences: [Breakaway specialist Alessandro De Marchi (CCC) crashed today and is out of the Tour.]
George: Fractured clavicle, fractured rib, lung contusions and numerous contusions. A bad day for my old team CCC.
Fun fact: [Stage 7 winner and breakaway artist ThomasDe Gendt is doing all three major tours.]
George: I couldn’t do it that more than 60 days of racing.
Lance: No way, no how.
Tomorrow is Undecided: George: It’s a day for the sprinters. Teams that have not won yet will really be battling it out. There will be a breakaway but they will get caught. There will be a sprint finish.
Lance: I’m not so sure. Look at the profile. It’s 200-plus kilometers. And I’m not sure the sprint teams will want to work that hard. Look at Caleb Ewan [Lotto Soudal]. He was saying the other day, ‘Don’t bother, I’ll find a wheel.’ If you don’t want a lead out then you can’t expect your team to pull you all day long. If you’re getting paid to be a sprinter for a team then you need to take that responsibility. If you have seven teammates burying themselves for you your mindset should be I’m going to do if for these guys. I think it will be a breakaway.
George: It’s still early enough in the Tour that the teams that haven’t won a sprint will put some riders on the front. They’ll make sure it’s a sprint. I’m calling it’s Groenewegen.
Listen to the full recap of Stage 9 on THEMOVE here.
Listen to the preview of Stage 10 on THEMOVE here.
Stage 8: Thomas De Gendt Takes One for the Ages, Alaphilippe Rips Back the Yellow Jersey, and Gianni Moscon Now Has Two Pinarellos
[This was perhaps the most entertaining day of all-out bike racing the Tour has seen in years. One part grueling, Spring Classics-style throwdown and one part Tour de France mountain stage—they climbed over 12,000 feet. The GC guys were forced to race while breakaway artists fought for the win and two Frenchmen escaped from the yellow jersey group to change the overall standings. If you missed this one, watch it on demand.]
Lance: Stage 8 was all about one man. What Thomas De Gendt [Lotto Soudal] did today was one of the most spectacular performances from a breakaway I’ve ever seen. Pretty clear who today's Patron is—Thomas De Gendt. That performance was outstanding. He went away at kilometer zero. He may be the Patron of the first week. He is cycling’s breakaway specialist. Today he started the breakaway, ends up with four guys on a day that we said was going to be hard, and then drops two of them. And he survived over 12,000 feet of elevation gain. For him to get out on a breakaway was impressive, but to stay away on the last 20 kilometers was incredible. I gave him no chance.
George: And he dropped his fellow breakaway rider Alessandro De Marchi [CCC Team], who is also one of the strongest breakaway specialists in the peloton.
Lance: And he stayed away from Alaphilippe [who violently took back yellow today] who was charging. Thomas De Gendt deserved to win.
George: And Alaphilippe. [With only a few kilometers left to race, Alaphilippe sprung from the yellow jersey group where he was quickly joined by fellow Frenchman, Thibaut Pinot of FDJ. The pair nearly caught De Gendt while moving back into first and third in the overall respectively]. Alaphilippe was all in for yellow, and he’s going to fight to keep it now.
Lance: I said earlier that he wasn't able to contend for the overall, but I’d like to take that back. He was strong on the big climb the other day and he was strong again today.
George: And he was getting no help from his team. He was getting his own water bottles.
Lance: As an aside, Quick-Step are heavy users of Keto Esters [a legal supplement that is reported to help with performance at the mitochondrial level]. I’m not exposing anything. They’re legal. At first it was [Team] Sky that had access; now all the teams do. And it works.
George: They might have to change their tactics to help Alaphilippe. They can’t contest for the sprints and the GC.
Lance: He’s been dominant. He left the best riders in the world again today. But you can’t do that every day. Eventually it catches up to you.
George: He’s been keeling over at the finish line for three days now.
Lance: Hats off to Pinot for learning how to descend. To follow a guy like Alaphilipe is impressive.
Ineos Crash: [Michael Woods of EF Education First went down in a corner and took the Ineos squad down with him (team leader Egan Bernal was safe at the front of the pack). The crash resulted in Musco’s bike being split in two and last year's winner Geraint Thomas having to fight back down from a 30-second gap. High drama.]
Lance: They all went down like dominos. Musco now has two Pinarellos. You can’t be all that confident going downhill after you see your bike do that.
George: I took two observations from that crash. The first one is just how strong Thomas is now in managing to come back. His teammates gave him everything they had, but Thomas took it from there. And the second observation: Egan Bernal, their teammate and co-leader, didn’t even come back in the yellow jersey group to get him back to the front. Here’s a 22-year-old not going back for last year’s yellow jersey winner. If I’m the director I would have said go back.
Lance: I’m betting the director said stay at the front. Hedge the bets.
George: Thomas is emerging as the clear favorite.
Lance: To me that would be exceptional because before the Tour he did not look good.
Four Americans Drops to Three: [American Tejay van Garderen abandoned the Tour yesterday with a broken hand and multiple cuts and contusion from a crash of his own making.]
George: I love Tejay. One of my great friends in the peloton. Something happened in the lead-up to this Tour. He was on great form before that. He went too deep. I don’t know. But to crack on stage six and then crash on stage seven is heartbreaking.
American Ben King Was in the Breakaway: George: Happy to see him there. Fellow southerner. Won two stages in the Vuelta last year. Hope to see him in more breakaways before this one is over.
Don’t Trust the GPS: Lance: If you’re following the gaps on TV you know they've been all over the place. Whatever they’re beaming up from the number plates on the bikes is off. For the fan at home don’t look at those and think that they’re accurate. It’s a ballpark of the gap.
UCI Cycling is Taking a Survey: Lance: They’re now asking the public what they should do to fix road cycling. I would be remiss if I didn't fill out the survey. [Check it out here.]
Tomorrow the GC Guys Will Hide: George: Extremely difficult day tomorrow.
Lance: Starts off with a Category 1 climb
George: I don’t think Quick-Step will even try to control that stage. And they won’t be able to do if they try. So I predict a breakaway gets away.
Lance: I think the GC guys will hide as much as they can. The roads are just slow. The chip sealing in this part of France is slow. You feel it at the end of the day. It’s just slow.
Has Anyone Ever Ridden a Stage Hungover? [Lance answers this question from a fan.]
Lance: Yes, people have ridden stages of the Tour with hangovers. I won’t name names, but their was one rider who would get hamskied and not in a good way. And in 2003 I rode into Paris slightly nickered up. Johan [Bruyneel, Armstrong’s former team director] looked at me and he was like: “Oh my god. You know today counts?” That whole day was terrible.
Listen to the full Stage 8 recap on THEMOVE here.
Listen to John and JB’s preview of Stage 9 on THEMOVE here.
Stage 7: The Mad Quackers of Quick-Step, Dylan Groenewegen Gets His Day, and Expect Alaphilippe to Take Back Those Six Seconds for Yellow Tomorrow
George Breaks Down The Sprint Finish: George: It feels good to pick another winner. I’m one up on Johan now.
Lance: Hats off to George. Viviani [QuickStep] was in the armchair, but he hit that incline and lost it. What I love about these boring days, is that you learn a lot about chateaus.
George: This was an interesting lead-in to the sprint because you had multiple teams taking their own lead-outs. But Quick-Step is just dominating the leadout these days. You don’t want anything to do with the full quackers on that squad. [See stage 5 for Lance and George’s discussion of what a quacker is.] They’re crazy. They didn’t get into that position by accident. Anyway, Quick-Step was all together with two kilometers to go. It was the perfect leadout. And then we have my boy Dylan Groenewegen [Jumbo-Visma] and Caleb Ewan [Lotto-Soudal] back behind them. Groenewegen and Ewan come around everyone on both sides. When that second Quick-Step rider peeled off, Groenewegen did not wait. He went on his own into the wind and won it. Ewan stayed in the wheels for just a fraction of a second but almost won anyway. It was a great sprint.
Tejay Has Another Bad Day: [After cracking on the first major climb of the Tour, American Tejay van Garderen’s misfortunes snowball.]
Lance: Today was 143 miles and just boring. Besides the sprint, the only two exciting things that happened were Tejay’s crash and the split in the group after the intermediate sprint.
George: Tejay hit a sign at 30K and had to ride another hundred-plus miles with blood on his face all banged up. I really feel for him and I hope he’s OK. I’m a big Tejay fan.
Nature Calls and Quintana and Martin Get Caught Out: Lance: The group accelerates through the sprints. Everyone knows this. But two GC guys were caught sleeping. [Nairo] Quintana and Dan Martin were caught out. If things went a little differently and they couldn’t chase back on, it’s see you in the douches [showers] for their overall chances.
George: There’s no excuse for riders of their level to make that kind of mistake. They spent as much energy coming back as the guys in the sprint. That might cost them in the stages to come.
Lance: Dan Martin is a heads-up bike racer. I was surprised to see him back there chasing. But they made it back.
George: About nature breaks: They will fine you if you pee in the wrong place. It happened yesterday. They don’t want you peeing in front of families. The woods are fine, but not in front of somebody's picnic. The French say it’s no proffie, not professional. They say the same thing if you eat donuts in the peloton.
Soul-Sucking Calorie Counting: George: I just learned this from the coverage this morning but the teams are now tracking every calorie the riders are putting in. They have devices that track your glycogen levels in the muscle. We had nothing like that. We were trading bars in the group. After five days of racing, you are so sick of what you have to eat. But now they’re measuring their intake and that can’t happen.
Lance: We’re getting to a place were wearables can actually measure these things and make a difference. When we were racing those devices were a novelty, but they didn’t work.
George: Mentally that would be brutal to me. I enjoyed eating a real meal and recovering based on feel. If they took that small freedom from me I don’t know what I would have done.
Fun Fact: [Current yellow jersey holder Giulio Ciccone is related to Madonna. He also got a contract extension from Trek-Segafredo.]
Lance: And I’m a distant relative of Muhammad Ali. Seriously. I was just informed of this. I’ll bring evidence before the Tour is over. You better watch your trash talking George.
And the Trash Talking: [George reveals shots of Lance from yesterday’s training ride. He’s keeled over in one and and sprawled out in a lounge chair in the second.
George: I’m poking the bear, trying to get Lance motivated for the big race.
Lance: George’s wife tells me that George naps 90 minutes a day. I work. This sumbitch sleeps.
Patron of the Day: Lance: It has to be Groenewegen. I didn't expect it. He crashed early in the Tour and got dropped in the TTT but he came back.
George: He was perfect today. Congrats to him.
Watch For Alaphilippe Tomorrow: Lance: It’s another hard day, it’s 200K with lumpy categorized climbs. I’m going to call it right now. Alaphilippe is going to get the yellow jersey back tomorrow. He’s going to do exactly what he did on Stage 3 and win the day.
George: My take is that the breakaway sticks tomorrow. But Alaphilippe might still get those six seconds back. I have PTSD from this stage. It’s one kilometer up and one kilometer down all day long. If you’re controlling the race, the teams behind are trying to get into breaks and the field is sending these groups of 20 guys up to sit on your wheels. And then at the bottom of every descent they attack like mad to get away. For a team trying to control a race it’s your worst nightmare. I don’t think Trek-Segafredo will try to control that tomorrow.
Listen to the full episode of THEMOVE here.
Stage 6: Dylan Teuns Takes the Stage, an Italian Waves His Arms in the Air, Alaphilippe Barely Loses Yellow, And Gravel Spices Up the Tour
Better Than Advertised: Lance: We all were expecting an exciting day. With 100 miles and 13,000 feet of climbing over a bunch of categorized climbs, how could it not be? And it was an exciting day. I have to say, and I said it after Julian Alaphilippe won, but wow, this is entertaining bike racing. Throw some gravel in, throw some 20-percent climbs in, I thought it was awesome. I loved it.
George: What a day. I think Quick-Step was kind of half in there in terms of pulling and protecting [Julian Alaphilippe in] yellow. They shouldn’t have allowed the gap to go over eight minutes. [Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) were part of a breakaway that built up to an 8-minute gap with about 70 km to go. The break kept shedding riders until, at about 4 km to go, only Teuns and Ciccone were left. Then Teuns dropped the Italian on the final climb, 50 meters from the line.] Maybe they weren’t even expecting it, but Julian Alaphilippe turned out to be one of the strongest guys of the day. They didn’t need to lose yellow.
Lance: I thought Alaphilippe would lose yellow, but it didn’t have to happen. Alaphilippe was impressive. This raises the question: Can he transition into an overall contender? The final climb today was only seven kilometers. It’s no Mont Ventoux. And on the penultimate climb he didn’t look good. He had the mask on, gritting his teeth. But it turns out that wasn’t a premonition of the finish. He was right there with [last year’s winner and the strongest of the GC bunch today] Geraint Thomas. I’m going to make him my Patron of the Day. I thought the opposite would be happening. I thought he’d be off the back of the group of favorites. Not off the front. He went off the front of the GC group and then held most of them off.
George Readjusts his Favorites: George: I clearly failed in my overall picks. Vinceno Nibali [Bahrain-Merida] did not look good today. Alejandro Valverde [Team Movistar] proved that he’s there to work for the team. I see Geraint Thomas, Alaphilippe, and Fuglsang [Astana] as the strongest guys in the race.
Lance Picks a Second Patron of the Day—Bobke: Lance: My second Patron of the Day is [commentator] Bob Roll, he’s doing an amazing job. And he picked stage winner Dylan Teuns from the breakaway. Nobody picked him but Bob. He knows what he’s talking about.
Lance Picks a Third Patron of the Day—the Organizers: Lance: My third Patron of the Day are the race organizers, ASO. We all know how hot and sexy gravel racing is right now. For ASO to lean into gravel is a smart move. I loved it. If in five years the trend is unicycling they should have a unicycle stage. I think they’re making the right move. They’re listening to the people. Maybe they’ll have all dirt climbs in the future. I’m curious what the riders had to say about the gravel. They may have hated it. But we loved it.
Breaking News, Italians are Demonstrative: George: Ciccone [second on the day and now in yellow] is my Patron of the Day. He worked all day in that breakaway and nearly won the stage and yellow.
Lance: Ciccone. He’s Italian, they really get wound up. Waving his arms at Teuns. Cleary his director came on his earpiece and said you have a chance for yellow, start pedaling.
George: I think they worked something out between themselves. “You get the win and I get the yellow.” That type of arrangement, because when it mattered they stopped arguing and held the gap.
Geraint Thomas Is Back: George: He made a statement today. He rode away from his competitors and caught and passed Alaphilippe on the steepest part of the course.
Lance: In the saddle too. That’s hard to do.
Who Cracked? Lance: Michael Landa [the Movistar rider attacked too soon and cracked hard]. Not only did he get caught but he got caught and went out the back. A guy with that much experience should know the course.
George: Tejay van Garderen [of Education First]. I was surprised. I thought he’d be stronger. I hope he isn’t sick. And I hope he comes back for stage wins.
Lance: Nibali. Nibali lost 50 seconds to Geraint Thomas in under a kilometer.
A Shoutout to Christian Vande Velde’s Hair: Lance: Christian’s Hair is my fourth Patron of the Day. Chris Horner [Vande Velde’s co-host on NBCSN] would kill to have that hair.
JB: I would kill to have that hair.
The Hand Sling Explained: [In the footage today we saw a number of riders reach back and sling teammates and even competitors back into position.]
George: I’ll take that since Lance has never done one in his life. A hand sling is an etiquette thing. Maybe you opened a gap on a teammate that you didn’t mean it. You put your hand out and pull that guy back. When everyone is at full gas you need to make amends.
Sleep in Tomorrow: Lance: Let’s talk about something really boring—tomorrow’s stage. It’s the longest stage of the Tour. And it includes a nine-kilometer neutral leg. Add that in and it’s a 240km day. I hated the neutral zones. Neutral is a terrible word.
George: I'm going to go with Dylan Groenewegen [Jumbo-Visma]. Great team and he’ll get a great lead out tomorrow. And there will be a lot of collaboration from the sprinter teams during the day so they’ll get there fresh.
Lance: I’m going with Viviani [Quick-Step].
Listen to the full recap of Stage 6 on THEMOVE here.
Stage 5: Sagan Dominates, Michael Mathews is Not a Quacker, Hater Tots, and Why You Should Get up Early to Watch Tomorrow
[Peter Sagan won today’s sprint finish in classic Sagan style, meaning he was able to dispatch the big sprinters on the stage’s rolling terrain and eventually win by an entire bike length.]
That Crystal Ball Again: Lance: I swear to God Johan Bruyneel [George and Lance’s former team director, who has been following Lance’s daily recaps with preview podcasts for the next day’s stage] has a crystal ball. It’s surreal. He picked Peter Sagan today.
George: I was not given the opportunity to choose a winner.
Lance: We both agreed that it was going to be a breakaway.
George’s Patron of the Day: [Patron means boss in Spanish. And Patron Tequila sponsors THEMOVE. Thus, Patron of the Day.]
George: My Patron of the Day is Toms Skujiņš [the Latvian rider with Trek-Segafredo]. He had such a strong day: in the breakaways all day with only three other riders, and then he had the strength to drop them. It looked like he had a shot for a while. That’s a good indication of his form. And we’ll see a lot more of him in the breakaways to come.
I think I should explain how breakaways work some more. On flat days the breakaway goes, and it’s virtually guaranteed that they won’t make it stick to the finish. They’re hopeful, but a lot of those breaks are for gaining experience and getting TV time for the sponsor at the front of the race. Today though [which had a jagged “saw blade” course profile] you saw four very strong breakaway specialists get away. And there were hundreds of attacks in the first few hours of the race. You have to be powerful to make it into a break like today’s.
Who Was Quackin’ and Who Wasn’t: Lance: I never pick him on the days he wins, so this is my penance. Peter Sagan is my Patron of the Day. He was right there quackin’. I’ll explain that [word] in a minute. When he finally went he immediately had a full bike length. Man, that punch was impressive. Obviously they’d dropped some big sprinters already but he rode flawlessly to do that.
Quackin’ [comes from] a Flemish word, I believe. In the peloton anyway, a quacker is a real person. If you’re fighting for position and you lose it, you got quacked by a quacker. First-year pros don’t quack much but Sagan is allowed to quack.
George: He rode like that as a first-year pro too. Quacking means no brakes, leaning in, head butting [jockeying for position]. Sagan is a quacker. If you do it to win races it’s one thing. If you’re doing it for 20th place though, it’s frowned upon.
Lance: Team Sunweb was working all day at the front and chasing those early breaks to put their sprinter Michael Mathews into position with Sagan. And ultimately it was for nothing.
George: Mathews was left on his own at the end and he did not quack like Sagan did to get into position. If I was Sunweb I would have left two or three guys out of the wind today so they could have stayed fresh to help at the line.
Stupid Fan Trick Number 67: An Umbrella: Lance: I’ve seen a lot of things in bike races. Drunk fans trying to take selfies, stray dogs. But now we have umbrellas. The fact the we have to warn people to make sure their umbrellas don’t [fly] away is idiotic. Poor Tony Gallopin [AG2R]. He crashed yesterday, and today he had to dodge an umbrella. Imagine if he broke a collarbone and had to go home and tell his friends and family, “I hit an umbrella.”
George: I have seen a lot of weird stuff too, but the strangest was a horse in the middle of the road. Very scary.
A Shoutout to Lance’s Greatest Rival, Jan Ullrich: [In the wake of the public shaming that came along with doping positives for the biggest stars in the sport, the German rider Jan Ullrich fell into depression and substance abuse.]
Lance: The Tour went within 30 minutes of Ullrich’s home today. I just want to give a shoutout to him. I caught up with him recently. He’s doing great. Totally sober. Nine months now. He’s back on the bike. His health is very good. I don’t know how you can’t be a fan of Jan.
George: Lance was always concerned with Jan’s fitness. How’s he look? Is he fat, is he lean? They were the ultimate competitors. But Jan came to Lance’s final party and spoke.
Lance: Getting healthy is a long-term commitment.
JB: That’s what THEMOVE’s logo, a bent arrow, means. Forward, never straight.
That Time the Paparazzi Stepped on the Yellow Jersey’s Puppy: Lance: Sagan was mobbed by journalists within seconds of winning the stage. He’s still gasping for air. The Tour protects the riders better than any other Grand Tour. But it’s so claustrophobic. It shouldn’t be allowed to happen. Imagine a Formula 1 winner getting out of his car only to be mobbed by the press with microphones in his face and the town butcher slapping him on the back.
George: I didn't win as much as Sagan or Lance, but my take is different. The normal rider that wins a race is ecstatic. They don’t even notice the people. They’re too thrilled.
Lance: Cadel Evans [former yellow jersey winner] took a swing at a few reporters once when they stepped on his puppy. Who brings a puppy to the Tour?
George Eats Hater Tots: [Lance and George are training to race each other on the final day of the Tour. Yesterday, Lance employed some non-traditional tactics in the buildup to the big day.]
George: We’re sitting at lunch with the families towards the end of the ride. I’m eating handfuls of tater tots and half my kid’s hamburger. Lance is eating a gel-block. We leave the lunch spot and Lance takes me on a 45-minute singletrack climb with a 10 percent grade. I was trying not to throw up.
Lance: You sound like you ate Hater Tots. As I was leading the climb I was saying out loud that I’m feeling fitter. Mr. Momentum has changed his address.
Tomorrow Matters. Get Up Early. [Everyone has been talking about Stage 6. It’s highly unusual for a big mountain stage with 13,000 feet of climbing to show up before Stage 8 or 9. The twist meant that the pure climbers had to come into the race ready to climb. Tomorrow will reveal whether their training worked.]
George: The GC guys were hiding today, conserving energy for tomorrow. That’s smart. And the fact that Julian Alaphilippe [in yellow, Quick-Step] wasn’t hiding, he was contesting for the sprint, might indicate that he’s not going to try to defend yellow on a day like this trying to save energy for tomorrow.
Lance: Tomorrow is a hard day: 13,000 feet of climbing in a hundred miles.
George: With a 13 percent grade on dirt. [NBCSN Commentator and former World Tour racer] Christian Vande Velde rode it and said it was hard. I’m saying a maximum of three guys will hit the finish line together. And Quick-Step won’t control the race.
Lance: I agree. Team Ineos has to take control tomorrow. I don’t think Julian Alaphilippe will be able to retain yellow. I think it’s too hard for him. My pick for tomorrow is Egan Bernal.
George: Alaphilippe looked good on the bike today, but my pick for tomorrow is Alejandro Valverde. It’s a super steep climb, but if he can make it to the top with the favorites, nobody can match his sprint. After 13,000 feet of climbing, nobody will be fresh.
Is Mountain Biking Good Cross Training for Road Riding? [Lance and George answer this question from a listener.] George: I never ever used mountain biking to train as a pro, but the last two years I did the Cape Epic [mountain bike stage race in South Africa], I got so efficient from mountain biking that I would rethink that. In nasty weather, I could have stayed warm and ridden my bike in the woods all those years.
Lance: If you’re mountain biking something steep it’s closer to running than riding. And the Q-factor (the width of the cranks) is different in mountain biking. That affects how you ride on the road.
George: You also won’t have the power on the flats if all you do is mountain biking. But for efficiency [spinning] it’s a benefit.
Listen to the full Stage 5 recap podcast on THEMOVE here.
Listen to the Stage 6 preview podcast on THEMOVE here.
Stage 4: Viviani Makes it Look Easy (if Dull), the Yellow Jersey Delivers a Mad Leadout, and Tomorrow Is for the Breakaway Specialists
Snore. Sprint Finish. Snore. Lance: Congrats to Quick-Step’s Elia Viviani for his first stage win. It’s one of these days. You have to have these boring days in a three week bike race. Long break, brought back, sprint finish, boring.
George: It was boring for us, but not the racers. They were keeping it tight worried about crosswinds.
Patron of the Day and Quick-Step Dominance: Lance: I’m going with Julian Alaphilippe. Here’s a French guy in France in yellow and everyone says he can’t make it past stage 6, and he’s on the front pulling [his teammate] Viviani for the leadout. He could have sat back. He’s my Patron of the Day.
George: I’m going to give it to Viviani. After not winning a stage last year, he had a lot of pressure on him. There are a lot of sprinters on that team that they could have brought instead. What a year this team has had. Close to 50 wins.
Lance: Other teams have won five times. To win 10 times more than your peers—that’s incredible.
George: And they delivered a perfect leadout. Viviani only had to do what he does. Today he clearly had a better leadout than any of his competitors. You have to have that. Everything has to go right, which it did today.
Where’s the Teamwork, Jumbo-Visma? Lance: When you have riders [on your team] looking to win the entire Tour and you also see two riders in 5th and 6th in a sprint finish, you have to think that leads to some awkward tension in the bus. Somebody has to sacrifice something for your top guys. I think they were thinking about themselves.
Team Ineos Had It Right: Lance: That was a hairy and sketchy run in to the finish but Ineos was right up there keeping their top guys out of trouble. That’s how you do it. If you’re a GC guy you’re shitting bricks. But that’s the catbird seat. You’re safe.
George: Keep them in the front on technical finishes and back in 30th if it’s a straight shot.
Lance: The sprinters don’t want the GC guys around and the GC guys don’t want to be there. They should give them that time immunity a few kilometers sooner.
Tomorrow Is For the Breakaway Specialists: Lance: Tomorrow Is one of those days that I’m glad I’m watching. The topo profile looks like a saw blade. All sorts of turns. If you’re in the back, it’s death by a thousand cuts.
George: Good chance that more than a few riders will get in the breakaway. We’ll see how much Quick-Step wants to control it and go for the win.
Lance: If Alaphilippe goes for that I’d be surprised. That will take too much energy.
George: I think the break will stick tomorrow. Plenty of strong guys that aren’t a threat to the overall. [Teams with race leaders are more likely to let a break get up the road if there aren’t any GC contenders in it.] That said, it’s hard to make the perfect situation work.
Lance: I’m going to agree with you there. You can’t hand-pick who goes in the break but it will get sorted out after the first two hours.
George: Tomorrow’s stage is for real breakaway specialists.
Listen to the full recap of Stage 4 on THEMOVE here.
Listen to the preview of Stage 5 on THE MOVE here.
Stage 3: Alaphilippe’s Incredible Move, Valverde’s Secret Weapon, and Aspen’s Problem with Pot-Laced Poop
Lance: Cannabis is legal in Colorado, as most of you know. But I don’t think we factored this headline news from the Aspen Times into legalization. Here’s the headline from today’s paper: “Pot Laced Human Poop is Getting Canines High.” Okay, moving on.
Alaphilippe’s Mad Play Earns Him Lance’s Patron of the Day Award [Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphillipe attacked and got away on a punchy ramp with 15 kilometers left to race, and won. It was one of the more exciting stage endings in years.]
Lance: George, congrats, you were right. You picked Julian Alaphillipe. This shit is fun to watch. If the bike racing is like this there will be a lot of people watching. Now I know you picked Alaphillipe, but you picked him to win in a sprint—an uphill sprint, right? You did not think that he would win a such an incredibly impressive fashion, correct?
George: If we’re all being honest here, no I did not pick him to win in such a dramatic manner. A friend asked me why the rest of that lead group let him go. It's a great question, but Quick-Step had that finish planned for weeks. And overnight they knew they had a chance for the yellow jersey. Alaphillipe thought a few people would have gone with him. I think he hoped a few people would have gone with him, but in the end it was just an incredible move and he didn’t need anyone.
Lance: I don’t think anyone could have followed. He’s our Patron of the Day.
George: The GC guys were probably like, I don’t want to make that move right now.
Lance: The consensus must have been that he wasn’t a big enough threat to the overall to go after him.
George: They also probably thought that they would catch him with 15k left to go. But because there wasn’t clear organization behind, he just had to hold that level.
Lance: After the race [EF Education First climber] Michael Woods said, “I just watched him go. I had good legs but not that good. It was beautiful to watch.”
George: Alaphilippe put in a ten second advantage on the climb, but on the descent he put in 30 seconds. Thirty seconds, in the supertuck [in the drops, ass on the top tube], by himself.
Lance: He had reconned that finale. He was not hitting his brakes in those blind corners. If he’s not braking and the peloton is, then he was picking up two to three seconds on every corner. He’s a French guy in France. He’s going to hold on to that jersey for a bit here.
Geraint Thomas Was in a Bad Spot: [Because of the hard racing to limit Alaphilippe’s damage at the front, gaps formed in the GC group and last year’s winner Geraint Thomas was caught out.]
Lance: Ineos teammates Egan Bernal was 12th and Geraint Thomas was 13th today, but because the race official called time gaps [declared a time difference between Bernal’s group and Thomas’ chase group], Thomas technically finished in the next group back and lost five seconds to Bernal. You start to question: Was he a little off? Was he out of position? Five seconds is nothing but it’s a psychological thing.
George: You know their race director was screaming in their earpieces that they needed to stay up front because they would be calling gaps today. Thomas was just not in the right position.
Philippe Gilbert Should Have Been Here: [The 2019 Paris-Roubaix winner, and starter of the 2018 Tour de France, was left off the Tour squad by Quick-Step.]
Lance: Philippe Gilbert was left off. What do you think of that, given today’s stage?
George: Of course Cavendish [who was also not invited] is a buddy, and Gilbert is a buddy of mine, but here’s the current Paris-Roubaix winner sitting at home. I’m sure he was happy for his teammate but he should be there.
Valverde Is Leaner Than Ever—Watch Out: George: Our sources are telling us that [Movistar’s Alejandro] Valverde has lost six pounds. He wasn’t a big guys to begin with. If it’s true that he weighed 133 pounds last season then he’s down to 127 pounds now. If he kept that power—yikes.
George Feels a Bead of Sweat? [George and Lance are racing each other at the end of the month.]
George: I thought I felt a little bead of sweat when Lance went up a climb on a group ride the other day. But it turns out it was raining
Lance: I was projectile sweating.
#Winning: [THEMOVE is now the number one show on the iTunes Sports & Recreation channel, and it’s number 53 overall out of 700,000 podcasts.]
No Tucks Given: [Alaphilippe built his lead today by super-tucking on a very scary road full of holes and encroached upon by dirt. This prompted Lance to hold up a shirt that a fan sent in that read “No Tucks Given”]
Tomorrow’s Gonna Be a Fight: George: It’s going to be hard start with lots of teams trying to get in the breakaways. Most likely they won’t make it. Quick-Step will want to keep the yellow tomorrow. They won’t let anyone get away.
Lance: At the finish they’ll be fighting from five kilometers out and the turns look tricky.
George: Yesterday you said that if Sagan didn’t win today you wouldn't pick him again. So I’m going with Sagan for tomorrow.
Lance: I’m going with Dylan Groenewegen. Jumbo wants another stage.
George: At 15k to go there’s a climb that Sagan’s team will try to drop Groenewegen on. They’re going to drive the pace tomorrow.
Listen to the full episode of THEMOVE here.
Stage 2: Johan’s Crystal Ball, Return of the Panzerwagen, the UCI Is Measuring Socks and Fighting Crime, and Tomorrow it’s Peter Sagan Versus Julian Alaphilippe in a Steep Sprint to the Finish
Jumbo-Visma Dominates the TTT to Hold On to the Yellow Jersey: Lance: In the aftershow yesterday Johan [Bruyneel, former U.S. Postal director] described to a T that Ineos would have the best time early and then sit there all day, for two hours, and that Jumbo-Visma would beat them in the end. He has a crystal ball. The guy is a genius. And if you think about that difference of 20 seconds on stage 2, that’s huge. They put their competitors back 10 places and more.
George: It was clear domination. Team Movistar is now 45 seconds back.
Lance: I said this yesterday and I’ll say it again today. The time trial is real time. Romain Bardet has to make up that minute his team lost on his own. With tactics.
George: On the television coverage they were worried about Jumbo-Visma waiting on [yellow jersey winner, Dutchman Mike] Teunissen. But that didn’t happen.
Lance: It’s no joke. You actually do ride twice as strong in yellow.
George: It was also great to see my friend Tony Martin [Jumbo-Visma] back out there. He’s had a lot of injuries but he’s healthy again. In Germany they call him the Panzerwagen, the tank, and he looked like a tank today.
The Warm-up: [Due to some confusion, a few teams almost missed their starts. This prompted a conversation about how you warm up for a TTT.]
Lance: The rule of thumb is that the longer the effort the less intense the warm-up, and the shorter the effort, like today, the more intense the warm-up. You’re going from sitting on your ass to full gas.
George: People ask me if the team time trial is easier than a regular stage. It’s not. Logistically it’s even harder. It’s difficult to plan. You have to pre-ride the course. You have to do your warm-up. It’s an intense day even if the effort is only 27 km long. I would say it’s harder. You’re in Zone 5 or 6 the entire time. You aren’t sitting up talking to your teammates.
The UCI Was Out at the Start Measuring Bikes—and Sock Height: Lance: You can blame me for the sock height deal. We started playing around with compression socks. There was a runner that was winning marathons with the type of compression socks that people buy at drug stores.
George: Please don’t start showing up on group rides with compression socks. The cool factor is not there.
Lance: Anyway, we were testing them out one day—they worked—and I saw a cycling official. He asked me about the socks and then his eyes got really wide. Clearly he ratted me out and told the UCI that I was going to be wearing compression socks during the Tour. That’s when they came up with the sock height policy. Now compression socks are an entire industry. And the UCI is measuring socks and fighting crime.
Just How Big Are Those Chainrings? Lance: On today’s time trial, most people were riding with 60-tooth front chainrings. To put that in perspective, most bikes have 53-tooth rings. With a huge chainring like a 60, you keep the chain in the middle of the gears. You can really fine tune the gearing and not make the big jumps between gears. But trust me, nobody is pedaling a 60-11 gear ratio unless they’re going downhill with a tailwind.
George Breaks Down TTT Tactics: George: If you watched Team Movistar, they started lackadaisical. They probably lost 10 seconds in the start. Jumbo started fast and got into single file with the entire team on the aero drops quickly. When Lance and I raced, they only wanted the first three riders in the drops; everybody else was supposed to have their hands on the bullhorns. They did it for safety reasons. We all yard-saled in 2000. But you saw Jumbo and they were all in the drops. And they were executing the single rider pull-off perfectly. In most recreational settings, riders head up the left side of the group and pull off in a paceline style. With the single rider pull-off you stay in one line and peel off one at a time. It should be an aggressive pull-off so the rider behind you knows what your doing and you should pull far over so you aren’t mucking up the slipstream of the group. It’s critical that everyone stays in position so that when you drift back you know who the person in front of you is, so you can pull in and get back on his wheel. Communication is crucial. You can’t hear anything. All we had was an earpiece. No mic. One-way communication.
Tomorrow Is Mostly Flat, But a 12-Percent Ramp Could Hurt the Sprinters: Lance: It’s on the longer side—215 km. Flat all day but a tricky finish. The last 500 meters are about eight percent.
George: I’m going with Julian Alaphilippe [Quick Step]. He’s in good form. And Sagan will be right there. There is a climb of 12 percent with 15 km to go that they’ll try to drop some sprinters on.
Lance: I’m going with Sagan. If he doesn’t win tomorrow that’s the last prediction I’ll make.
Listen to the full episode of THEMOVE here.
Stage 1: Fuglsang Draws First Blood (His Own), and Sagan Gets Poached by an Unknown
Remembering Paul Sherwen: [Lance and George took a minute to remember the racer, team manager, and longtime race commentator who was there for George’s first race as a World Tour rider and was still on the scene 19 years later for his last.] Lance: I miss Paul. We were friends for a long time.
Another Nod to the Manx Missile: George: How can you leave him off the squad? It’s Mark Cavendish. He’s won 30 stages. He should be there.
Lance: I’m not trying to be critical about Mark. I love Mark. But he can’t finish within the time cut. You can’t go to the Tour de France if you can’t finish with the group. Mark Cavendish would not have been better than fourth place today.
Lance and George Make their Picks for the Overall Win: Lance: I basically said in the preview show that Jakob Fuglsang was my pick. But his Tour ended today with his crash. I believe that. [A bruised knee and a cut above his right eye sent the Astana captain to the doctor, but he finished without losing time.]
George: The crash should never have happened. Lance crashed once in seven and a half years. That’s hard work, not luck. For me to see Jakob in the middle of the group, that’s unacceptable.
Lance: You have to use the team to stay on the front. Crashes happen in the front, too. But the stats show they happen more in the middle and back. Now he has a big cut on his eye, lots of blood coming down. Everything is different after a crash. You sit different. You ride different. You think different. He’s done.
George: I have a dark horse pick, which is Vincenzo Nibali, if he has truly recovered from the Giro. We’re talking about one of the best bike handlers in the bunch. And Geraint Thomas crashed again today. I’m picking Nibali.
Lance: He’s one of these guys that as soon as you pin a number on his back he’s a favorite. He can ride a bike.
A Surprise Winner Takes the Yellow Jersey—By Inches: [Dutchman Mike Teunnisen from Team Jumbo-Visma beat Peter Sagan by a bike throw in today’s stage.]
Lance: His leader Dylan Groenewegen goes down and then it’s Peter Sagan in front… Nobody would have picked Teunissen. He’s the first Dutchman to put on the yellow jersey in 30 years. That’s too long for a country like Holland. But he’s not a complete unknown. He won the amateur Paris-Roubaix as a junior and has won some races this year. As he came to the line Sagan gave him a look like, Who the fuck are you? It was that tight of a finish.
George: I think Jumbo is going to keep winning at the Tour especially if Groenewegen recovers. But today it was Teunissen that said “see you in the douches” to Peter Sagan. That means see you in the showers.
As Predicted, Geraint Thomas Hits the Deck Again: Lance: My source at Team Ineos confirms that he’s fit and flying, but their biggest concern is how much he crashes. It’s not his fault. It just happens.
A Full Gas Stage: [The peloton averaged 44.5 kph according to George’s early calculation.] George: I would have guessed it would have been a little easier today. The team directors were probably saying last night to stay out of trouble and save something for the team time trial. But the last 70 km were fast.
Concussions in Cycling: [A crash in the final kilometer left a racer seemingly unconscious in the road. He was seen moving after the crash.]
Lance: If you take a big hit like that in most other sports there’s a protocol and they’ll pull the athlete off the field. Not so in cycling. This is not football or hockey. That guy hit the deck hard and didn't move. It’s time that cycling institute some concussion protocols.
Team Time Trial Tomorrow: Lance: This is the earliest I’ve ever seen a team time trial. I have to give a shout out to [Outside contributor] Joe Lindsey. He pointed out over a tweet that today’s crash is relevant for tomorrow. The teams start in reverse order tomorrow and Team Ineos was last because of the crash. That means they go first tomorrow without having the benefit of seeing the splits.
George: We used to get that message from [former U.S. Postal Director] Johan Bruyneel. “I need three of you to finish near the front so we get a good placement in the team time trial. That didn’t happen with Ineos today.
Shut Up Jens? [Lance takes a gentle dig at commentator and former pro Jens Voigt, who is enthusiastic but whose German is a bit tough to understand.]
Lance: Jens Voigt is still on TV. Ugh.
Listen to the full episode of THEMOVE here.
Preview: Chris Froome's Momentary Lapse of Judgment. And What's Your Prediction for the Fight, Champ?
[Lance and Company’s first 2019 TDF podcast came to us live from Santa Fe, New Mexico, home to THEMOVE media partner Outside. Stage one begins this Saturday, July 6 in Brussels—home of the legendary Eddy Merckx. But first, in this preview episode, Lance, George, and JB talk about the road ahead.]
Doom and Gloom Without Froome and Dumoulin: [The two biggest general category stars are out of the 2019 Tour de France with Tom Dumoulin (knee injury) and Chris Froome (broken leg, ribs, and elbow) watching from home. Will this make for a dull TDF or will it mean more fireworks? Lance thinks it will bring the heat.]
Lance: Whenever you look at the TDF before the racing starts you look at the course and the athletes. On paper is the course is not overly exciting. But the athletes bring the drama. You can’t avoid the fact that Dumoulin and Froome are not here. But that almost makes it more exciting. It’s truly anyone’s race.
What Was Froome Thinking? Lance: What happened to Chris Froome? If we believe everything we read, he was out pre-riding one of the time trials on his aero bike. As the story goes, he had taken a hand off the bars to blow his nose. But in a video just before the crash he’s putting a raincoat on with no hands on the bar. The bike was shaking. And we know the ending. His teammate was telling him not to take risks, it’s a pre-ride. This is totally unacceptable, especially from a veteran rider like Chris Froome. He’s 35. That’s a potential career ender. I don’t see him coming back.
George: It was a momentary lapse of judgement. I tried to remember the times I took both my hands of the bars on a time trial bike and the answer was never. Those bikes are twitchy. I’d like to see him come back. I’m not going to count him out yet.
[The boys also bemoaned the absence of U.S. fan favorite Lawson Craddock (the guy that rode the entire Tour with a broken scapula last year) and sprinting superstar Mark Cavendish.]
Lance and George Handicap the Favorites
Last Year’s Winner, Geraint Thomas: George: I’m interested to see how he rides this year. Everything went perfect for him last year. But this year he has not had the same buildup.
Lance: I’ve heard that Thomas is riding really well right now. But I’m guessing he has less than 20 race days in his legs. We tried to get 40 days in before the Tour. That 20 extra days of riding in the group in a race setting can’t be discounted. Especially with somebody with less than perfect bike-handling skills like Thomas.
George: The hard crash he had at the Tour de Suisse will be in the back of his mind. I see that as a bit of an issue.
The Colombian Prodigy, Egan Bernal: Lance: I don’t know a lot about Bernal because he’s only 22 years old. But he’s had some incredible results this season. I find it hard to believe that a 22-year-old can win the Tour de France though. The one thing I was worried about earlier was that, as a skinny Colombian climber, he wouldn’t be able to handle himself and the bike. But in the Swiss Tour he came into a corner hot. Ninety-nine percent of the peloton would have crashed. But he pulled it out. Then I learned that he was top three in junior world championships on the mountain bike. You have to be a good rider to finish that well. He can handle the bike.
George: There are mental mistakes to be avoided too though. The chances of a more veteran rider having a bad day is less than a 22-year old.
Danish Pro Jakob Fugslang: George: He has to be one of the favorites. Very complete rider. Podium contender if not the winner.
Lance: If he wants to win, this is the year. He has the experience, the form, and the team. If somebody was going to force me to pick a favorite I might pick him.
The Yates Bros, British Siblings Adam (Team Leader) and Simon (Climbing Lieutenant): George: I like those guys. They’re super aggressive with a strong team [Mitchelton-Scott GreenEDGE] behind them.
Inconsistent French Star Thibaut Pinot: George: He’s a candidate for the podium in my opinion. We’ll see him up there.
Inconsistent Colombian Star Nairo Quintana: Lance: I’ll stop short of saying he’s a choker, but there’s always so much expectation that he doesn’t deliver on. The Colombian story in this year’s Tour will be Bernal. The Colombians want their first winner.
George: Quintana has won a Grand Tour before. He has the experience. I agree he hasn’t lived up to his potential. I won’t count him or Rigoberto Uran out. Between those three Colombians, one might be on the podium. They are all 1,000 percent committed to the sport. Living thousands of miles away from your home does that to you.
Lance: But Quintana is splitting team leadership with Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde, and Quintana. Hard to manage that situation.
A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to Romain Bardet: Lance: Lot of question marks about his form. But he could be playing possum. I think his team is better than they were. It’s not a bad team. And there aren’t any major time trials so he has a chance.
Lo Squalo dello Stretto (“The Shark”), Vincenzo Nibali: Lance: Never say never. He’s won the bike race before. He’s leading the team. He did the Tour of Italy. He’s a real bike racer.
Tough Season for Richie Porte: Lance: I believe he can win the Ironman one day. He grew up a swimmer.
George: He’s not living up to his potential this year.
Peter Sagan for the Green Jersey: Lance: I think he looks better. He’s my pick for the stage one yellow jersey. The finish is 4.5 to 5 percent uphill. That’s challenging enough that the others won’t be fast. He’ll wear the green jersey too.
George: He’s been altitude training in Utah. He’s in good form.
Why Just One Wimpy Time Trial? Lance: This pisses me off. It’s the Tour de France, the greatest bicycle race on earth. And it only has 16 miles of individual time trialing. Now you bring all these other players that can’t time trial back into the fold. Including the French guys. It’s unacceptable. But maybe it will be more exciting because of it.
Who Takes the Stage 2 Team Time Trial? Lance: I like Michelton-Scott. It’s a complete team. The thing you have to look at is that it’s truly an eight-man team. It has to be as balanced as possible. I wouldn’t discount EF Education First either. And Quick-Step has won 46 bike races this year. Compare that to Trek—all the money they spend and they’ve only won six bike races.
George: I’m going with EF Education. Tejay [van Garderen], Simon Clarke, Michael Woods—they have a lot of strong rouleurs.
Where is the Yankee Stadium of Climbs? [The 2019 race is devoid of famous climbs.] Lance: The only one we can single out is the Tourmalet. Typically you’d have that and Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez. This year they go up the easy side of the Galibier. Where is the Yankee Stadium? We’re playing at the Little League field.
George: I think we won’t have a lack of hard finishes at this Tour—although we won’t have recognizable names.
Three More Americans to Root For (in Addition to Tejay)
Ben King Lance: If you want to root for an American this year, Ben King is a great story. From his site: “When I’m guttered out in some windy wet field, eating road dirt from the wheel in front of me and suffering like a pig far from home, it’s nice to know that people actually care about what we’re doing.”
Chad Haga George: He won a stage at the Giro. I was super excited to see him win that time trial. Maybe he’ll win the time trial here too.
Joey Rosskopf George: I’m excited to see him back. Really pulling for him.
Listen to the full episode of THEMOVE here.