Can it get any more funny? This is a pretty hilarious video with Chris Froome and some other Team Sky riders. They should employ this tactic during the race too!
Tour De France leader, Chris Froome with Team Sky, has not had the largest fan club in the past especially for the caliber of rider that he is, but the club is certainly growing at this year’s TDF. Spectators and fans have complained that Chris Froome’s Team Sky tactics are boring to watch and that they lack pizzazz and emotion like the good ol’ days, but on the contrary they are successful. This Tour de France, Chris Froome has broken the Sky mold on several occasions and has flipped his rivals upside down.
Chris Froome’s Upbringing
As a child Chris Froome was not destined to become a two-time winner of the TDF, like other European racers. Lots of European professional cyclists have long histories with cycling running deep in their family heritage; not Chris Froome. He did not grow up being told great tales of cyclists or see big professional races in Europe. Froome grew up in Kenya and South Africa with lions and sort of stumbled into cycling at age 14. He took quickly to the sport but didn’t turn professional until 22. This is quite an untraditional path and somewhat explains his unconventional way of doing things.
South Africa Training Camp
One reason Chris Froome is the raddest wearer of the yellow jersey is that Froome returned to his roots in South Africa at the beginning of the season, with American Ian Boswell, to began preparing specifically for the TDF. South Africa is not the typical place professional cyclists go to train, but it does provide all the key components a top rider needs such as warm weather, long climbs, and altitude. South Africa provided an unusual training experience for the two with the exotic wildlife and very different way of life than in Europe. Froome returning to his home continent of Africa to prepare and not heading to popular training camp destinations such as Mallorca or Tenerife certainly differentiates Chris Froome from his competitors.
Early in the Tour, Nario Quintana held off attacks from Team Sky and looked to be in a good position for the day as they crested the final climb, but Chris Froome had other plans. Froome attacked on the descent of the Peyresourde while Quintana and Valverde chased. Froome held off the chasers and managed to put 13 seconds on them and moved into the yellow jersey. No one ever expected Froome to attack on this descent, not standard Team Sky tactics. This move flipped Froome’s skeptics and was quite clever catching his opponents off guard and propelling himself into yellow. Froome gained a lot of recognition from his critics and made the race exciting to watch.
Breakaway with Peter Sagan
Stage 11 was expected to be a day for the sprinters, but Chris Froome and Peter Sagan had different plans. Sagan went on the late attack roughly ten kilometers from the finish… and Froome followed. Along with Sagan’s teammate Maciej Bodnar and Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas, the two teams dropped the hammer in the final few kilometers. Sagan planned to give the win to Bodnar but realized Froome was going to sprint for the stage win, as well as gain valuable time on Froome’s GC rivals. Sagan was forced to sprint obviously beating Froome, but it is not very common to see the yellow jersey and the green jersey sprinting against each other for the finish. That day Froome gained an additional twelve seconds on GC rivals and raced his bike with instinct, not a well thought out and executed plan. Sky tactics are normally simple; set a blistering pace on the climbs to discourage attacks. On this stage Froome followed his gut. Jumping in a break caught everyone by surprise and publicized that he can race his bike and is at the Tour to race, not just ride uphill faster than everyone else.
The Froome Run
One of the most popular memes in cycling right now must be Chris Froome running up Mont Ventoux with his bike. Fans crowded the famous climb and caused a race motorcycle to stop with Richie Porte, Bauke Mollema, and Chris Froome close behind causing them to crash into the motorcycle. With Froome’s support car a long way back he took to foot and began to run the final kilometer to limit his losses. What was a funny moment for spectators was a moment of fear and panic for Froome. This was an admirable move by Froome to keep his yellow jersey, and a display of how desperately he wants to win. Riders in the past in similar situations have thrown bikes or would have just accepted the time loss, but not Froome. He was willing to run for every second of time to stay in yellow. Ultimately the ASO gave Froome and Porte the same finishing time as Mollema because of the strange circumstances but Froome had already gained the respect from fans.
Changing Views of Chris Froome
Jumping in the break with world champion Peter Sagan, running up Mont Ventoux, and attacking the descents turned many follower’s heads during this years Tour de France. This style of racing is interesting to watch for spectators and rewrites the script for normal TDF stage racing. Sagan has such a large following because of his personality and how he races with passion and instinct. Chris Froome has seemed to channel the same type of passion and instinct at this year’s Tour is becoming increasingly more desirable to cheer for. Chris Froome probably won’t continue his running career but hopefully will continue racing with the same fire and aggression we have seen thus far.
One thing with professional races, like the Tour de France, is that the race waits for no one. The front of the race may slow if there is a crash or for a “nature” break but for flat tires or bike mechanicals, you will quickly fall behind. The job of the team car is to feed riders bottles as well as food along with making sure their bikes stay in proper working order. Often times this means fixing whatever needs fixed while moving at speeds of 30 or 40 mph, or more. The Wall Street Journal put interviewed a mechanic from one of the teams who is the one reaching out the window performing any fixes. It’s a pretty interesting task and one that seams risky for both rider and mechanic. The next time you see a rider getting service on their bike from the team car, you’ll know what’s going on.
The stage up Mount Ventoux in the Tour de France always makes for some incredible racing as well as watching. The first interesting thing, well probably not the first but one of them, was that the stage finish had to be moved 6 kilometers down the mountain because of super high winds at the summit. The next interesting thing was perhaps one of the most interesting things to happen in the Tour de France EVER. Chris Froome, the wearer of the yellow jersey, left his broken bike on the side of the road and started running to the finish line, over a kilometer away.
The incident began when the hoards of spectators on the side of the road only left space for about one rider to fit through. The motorcycles ahead of Froome’s group were slowed and eventually stopped while one immediately ahead of the riders crashed into them. Froome and a few other riders then ended up crashing as well. Froome’s bike was completely useless as you can see from the photo below. With all of the spectators and other riders falling back the neutral support car was a few minutes back and his team car was even farther. The only thing left for him to do was run. As you can see in NBC Sports‘s video below, he didn’t just run for a few feet but for quite awhile. He eventually was able to get a neutral support bike but then also had issues with it and eventually his team car made it to him to give his spare bike. Froome ended up losing a few minutes but not a lot of time as could easily have been the case. The Commissaire’s however awarded Chris Froome and the others involved in the crash the same time thus leaving Froome with the Yellow Jersey.
Winning a sprint doesn’t come down to any one thing but rather a culmination of things including teamwork, speed, calculation, and power. Win a sprint of the Tour de France and you’ll be remembered for a long time. This video gets into how teams approach a sprint finish and why they are lined up they way they are. When you’re watching the next sprint finish, look and see what team members are riding where and see how far back their sprinter starts their sprint from. There’s a lot going on at 40+ mph and a lot of comes down to instinct and split second decisions. If you hesitate, it’s already too late. This video from Eurosport does a good job of describing the details of sprint.
Why would someone ride a bike across France for thousands of kilometers? The answer was simple and still is. In the early 1900’s it was to sell newspapers and now it is to boaster new products through sponsorship and feature attractions around France such as spectacles and cities. To do so the organizers must layout scenic and iconic routes. How do they create a route that is challenging, memorable, and even logistically possible? First you need to know a little bit of the history of the Tour de France Route and how it grew into the world’s largest sporting event.
Tour de France Route History
The Tour de France began in 1903 and was a publicity stunt to sell more French newspapers. In the beginning, the Tour de France route was six stages with a field size of about sixty contestants. Talent ranged from riders solely up for the challenge to racers that were sponsored by different bicycle manufactures. The field was comprised of primarily French competitors but several Belgians, Germans, Swiss, and Italians took part. The race began in a suburb of Montgeron, at the Café au Reveil Martin. Who would have guessed the first Tour de France cyclist started from a café? Every year with the exception of 1915-1918 and 1940-1946 due to World War I and World War II the Tour de France has been held. (Follow this link for More Tour de France Facts)
Route Selections and How the Organizers Decide
A lot goes into planning the Tour de France route every year. Cities are selected years in advance through much consideration and planning. Jean-Louis Pagês is the man responsible for which cities get to host the top cyclist in July. If a town is interested in hosting the Tour de France they first submit a letter to the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO) requesting to be an arrival or departure town. Pagês then visits the town to see if the town can handle such a large caliber event. If the city is selected to host the start of a stage they must pay a sizeable fee of no less than $50,000 (often times considerably more). To host a finish, the rate is doubled. Allegedly London paid well over $2 million dollars just in fees to the ASO to host the grand depart in 2007. Over 200 applicants are considered to host the 21-stage race. The Tour de France route has always featured several iconic mountain stages such as Alpe d’Huez, Mont Ventoux, Col du Galibier, and the Col du Tourmalet. Since 1975 the Tour de France has finished on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. The depart cities always change and rotate through France, but it is safe to expect these race finishes to always have a place in the Tour de France.
2016 Tour De France Route
The 2016 Tour de France Route will cover an astounding 3,519 kilometers and visit three different countries before finishing on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Sixteen new cities will be visited for arrivals and departures throughout the race. In 2016 the Grand Depart was from Mont-Saint Michel and finished on Utah Beach, one of the new stage cities in honor of D-Day. On this day we saw Mark Cavendish outsprint Marcel Kittel to claim the yellow jersey. This year the race has selected 9 flat stages, 1 hilly stage, 9 mountain stages and 2 individual time trial stages. Out of the 9 mountain stages, 4 are mountaintop finishes which add another level of complexity to route selections and logistics. The route is run in a counterclockwise direction this year traveling down to the southern boarder of France and into the Pyrenees before heading northwest into the Alps and before returning to Paris.
The Future Tour De France Route
No doubt, Pagês is already planning more extravagant and beautiful stages for the future. The 2017 Grand Depart has already been announced and will start in Dusseldorf, Germany. This will be the fourth time Germany has hosted the Grand Depart, thirty years after West Berlin in 1987. The entire route for 2017 is likely already approved and finalized by the ASO, although the public will not be notified until the fall. While we are only thinking about the 2016 Tour de France, Pages is already planning extravagant and breathtaking stages several years from now.
If you’re following the Tour de France or happened to tune in Saturday, you may have seen Chris Froome’s descending style. It is known as the super-tuck where you sit on the top tube to get the least amount of aerodynamic drag. Froome also takes it to another level where he pedals while in this position. This gives a little bit of extra forward propulsion while still staying aero. But should you descend like Chris Froome?
The Details of the Super-Tuck
The normal tuck down a descent on a road bike is to place your hands in the drops, slide your butt back a little, and lower your chest down toward your handlebars. This position gives you an aerodynamic position while being able to corner, brake, and handle your bike as needed. Taking this position one step further brings your hands from the drops to just next to the stem on the tops. This position brings your arms in giving you a bit more of an aerodynamic advantage. Taking the tuck one step further brings you to the super-tuck. There are two ways to do this. The first is how Chris Froome does it which is by sitting on the top tube and putting your hands in the drops. This gives you a bit more stability and ability to brake should you need to quickly. The second, and more dangerous way, is to sit on the top tube and place your hands next to the stem. This is the fastest way to go down a descent but also the most dangerous.
What Speeds Can the Super-Tuck Take You To?
The speed you can hit on a descent largely depends upon the road and whether it’s twisty, rough pavement, or windy. Each more aerodynamic position will up your speed by a few miles per hour. Froome was probably touching speeds of close to 60 mph but not more since he was still able to pedal a little without being completely spun out.
When To Use The Super-Tuck
The super-tuck is ideal when there is a long, straight, as well as smooth section of road. If there are any turns or bumps in the road, descending in this style is a sure way to crash and at these speeds is definitely something you do not want to even come close to doing. Additionally, even if all the conditions above are met, you should only use the position if you have a really good reason for going fast. Something like getting Yellow in the Tour de France, or maybe a big local race if you are confident in your abilities.
Should You Descend Like Chris Froome?
The short answer is no. 99 out of 100 times you should never descend like Chris Froome. The position is incredibly unstable because it places so much weight on the front wheel. If you want to test it out just to see what it feels like, find an open, smooth, traffic-free section of road that is not very steep so you are going slow and gently slide your butt forward from your seat to the top tube. Make sure you have a good grip on the bars in the drops. Be careful though when you go back to the saddle as you will have to slide your butt slightly forward to not catch it on the nose of the saddle. You’ll see how this happens very easily. Now that you know how it feels, never do it unless you are in a position where it is well worth it. Getting a Strava segment, a new top speed, or out-doing your buddies are not reasons that are worth it. Stay safe, and have fun descending in the drops.
Adam Yates of Orica Bike-Exchange was off the front by himself in second place on Stage 7. Meanwhile, a fan ventured too close to the generator keeping the 1 kilometer to go inflatable upright and apparently caught his belt on the power cored for it. With about near perfect timing, the collapsing inflatable caught Yates just as he was riding under it. The follow moto carrying spare wheels caught the whole thing on a GoPro which is the video below. Yates luckily only needed stitches on his chin but that will be a crash he as well as the cycling world will remember for a long time.
Tour de France 2016: Adam Yates crashes into collapsed inflata…Watch the moment when Adam Yates, of Orica Bike-Exchange, hit an inflatable arch which collapsed as he powered his way towards the finish line in Stage 7. Yates, who needed stitches in a chin injury, said later: “I had no idea I had hit something. Next thing I knew I was on the floor.”
Posted by Velon CC on Saturday, July 9, 2016
The Tour de France is a three week long bicycle stage race, mostly through France, although it sometimes starts in different countries and may cross French borders during those three weeks. Its first edition was in 1903 as a promotion for a sporting newspaper. That edition was only five stages with only fifteen riders. The Tour has grown to twenty one stages with 198 riders in 2016. But what is the Tour de France on a day-to-day basis? It’s has a lot going on and all at the same time.
So What Is The Tour de France – Some History
Henri Desgrange, the editor of LeVelo started the Tour de France as a publicity stunt in 1903. His newspaper was the second most popular sporting newspaper in France. While neither paper remains, the Tour has survived, only stopping for World Wars One and Two.
Four riders have won the overall classification at the Tour five times each: Jacques Aquetil of France, Eddy Merckx of Belgium, Bernard Hinault of France and Miguel Indurain of Spain. To finish the Tour is quite a feat; to win with such domination makes a rider a legend.
Each day, the riders start a stage. There are a few different kinds of stages:
- Time Trials: Each rider races against the clock individually. These can be decisive in the overall classification.
- Team Time Trials: Each team races together against the clock.
- Flat Stages: These stages usually end in a group sprint. Everyone gets the same time.
- Medium Mountain Stages: Usually rolling stages that lead to breakaways but do not have much impact on the overall classification.
- High Mountain Stages: This is where the biggest battles of the Tour happen. The stages go over the biggest mountains in France, making big time gaps in the race and having a big impact on the overall classification.
If the riders cross the finish line in a group, each rider receives the same time. If there is at least a one second gap between one group of riders and another, then the second group will receive a time that is behind that of the first group. On each stage, riders in contention for the overall classification are careful not to let gaps open, especially on flat stages where it is a careless mistake. Those seconds can matter on a later stage. Greg LeMond won the 1989 Tour by eight seconds, the smallest margin in history.
Each stage each day has a start and finish. All riders start together (except for time trials, where the officials track the time of each rider) and finish around the same time, with the riders falling behind receiving a longer time which is how the overall classification is determined.
There are four main classifications:
- General Classification – This is the cumulative time from each stage. The lowest time wins. Each rider must start and finish each stage to continue the race. This is for the coveted yellow jersey.
- Points Classification – Riders win points at intermediate sprints and at the finish line. Flat stages have more points available at the finish than time trials, hilly, and mountain stages. This green jersey usually goes to a sprinter.
- Mountains Classification – Each categorized climb has points awarded based on their difficulty. The smallest is category four, then three, two and one. The hardest are HC, or hors categorie, French for beyond category. These are the iconic climbs – Tourmalet, Alp de Huez, etc. The leader of the mountains classification wears a white jersey with red polka dots.
- Young Rider Classification – This is timed the same way as the general classification except that it is only for riders under twenty five years old. The wearer of this white jersey is expected to be the future of the sport.
There are two minor and one informal classification:
- Most Aggressive Rider – Each day, the race jury awards a red race number to be worn the next day to the most aggressive rider. This rider went to the greatest effort to animate the day’s the stage. Often it is the most active person in the breakaway.
- Team classification – Each team’s top three rider’s times are added together to get the team classification time. The lowest time is the leader. The leading team gets yellow numbers and sometimes add their own flare, like yellow helmets.
- Lanterne Rouge – This is the rider that is last on the overall classification, the red lantern, and is an informal classification. This refers to the red light at the back of a train. This rider always is a worker for a team and often has suffered some sort of difficulty during the race, requiring a heroic effort to continue on.
It’s a Team Sport!
While the focus is on individual jerseys and stage wins, cycling in general is a team sport. It is critical in grand tours like the Tour de France (there are two other grand tours – the Giro d’ Italia and the Vuelta a Espana). Without support riders mixed in with leaders on the nine person teams, those leaders would not succeed.
Each team will usually have a rider shooting for a high position in the overall classification. That rider should be able to climb and time trial well. His teammates will protect him with their draft so he uses as little energy as possible. They will also fetch bottles and food for him and wait for him if he needs a bathroom break or has a mechanical failure like a flat tire.
Teams also usually have a sprinter that is trying to win stages. Around the sprinter are other fast riders that try to bring the sprinter to the line as quickly as possible and in good position to out-sprint the other team’s sprinters. These riders are comfortable jockeying for position in the fast finishes and are required to keep their sprinter out of the wind until the last two hundred meters or so of each stage. Other team members that are not on riding are team directors, soigneurs, chefs, and mechanics. Team directors drive the team cars, hand out food and drinks, and generally make tactical decisions for the team. Soigneurs do whatever the riders need off the bike. Things like massage, carrying bags, doing laundry, making race food and drink, as well as feeding during the race from the feed zone. Chefs are obvious and their role is critical – they keep riders properly fueled for the three week race by cooking in the team’s hotel kitchen or often times now in a traveling kitchen that teams travel with. Mechanics take care of each rider’s multiple bikes along with the team’s cars, trucks, and buses. It’s a complicated and huge task that goes on for three weeks and it’s all for the riders to do the best that they can!
There is a lot going on at the Tour de France. If you do not understand early on, it is normal. There are so many nuances that it takes quite a while to grasp a firm understanding of the race. Keep watching and you will get more and more each day.
If you have a specific question about the Tour de France, ask in the comments section below and we’ll get you your answer asap!
Definitely a Rocky influence in this video but still a great take away of never give up. Peter Sagan’s hard work paid off with wearing the Yellow Jersey for the past 3 days in the Tour de France. He wanted to win big races since he was a kid and he wrote the script to his own movie, his life. Whatever it is that you want to do, be it on the bike or life in general, do it and do it they way you want to. An additional take away form this video is that with cycling you don’t have to just ride but can do other things to stay fit and get strong.
Peter Sagan *sunroot movie part. 1Život je ako film… Niekedy ťažký, inokedy sladký 😉
Life is like a movie…sometimes sweet, sometimes hard. Remember that you´re the main character in your life and you´re filming your story right now. Never give up and cheer up your life with *sunroot.
Posted by Peter Sagan on Wednesday, July 6, 2016