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Robert Hunter’s Stage 11 Diary Post “If Froome…”

July 13, 2012

Today may look relatively short on paper, being ‘just’ 148km, but the Alpine stage that runs from Albertville to La Toussuire contains two massive HC climbs and a category one climb to the finish line.

Who would have thought so many changes could have been made on such a short stage?

A lot of guys have now dropped out of contention of GC and its making it look a lot like Sky are going to win this race. I say sky cause if by chance Wiggins cracks, Froome is there to take over.

Anyway, back to the start.

There is nothing harder than a short stage in the Tour, but then add in 70kms of climbing and you have a recipe for a bit mess!

Being a sprinter- this is your worst nightmare! You just now that it is going to be a fight all day from start to finish. That’s just to get to the finish in the cut off time. You look at the race book and nothing else crosses your mind except how long will it take me to get dropped today?
Your biggest hope is you don’t get dropped alone and need to chase to get back to the groupetto because they already going full gas. If you miss the groupetto, it’s almost a certain ticket home.
On the final climb today a few guys missed the cut and that is because they couldn’t hold the speed of the groupetto. (Feel bad for Petacchi cause he is a great rider.)

I’ve been through a few stages like this so I feel for the riders who are not as strong as the Wiggins and the Froomes of the Peleton.

Guys like me, just can fathom how the guys up front can go so fast up hill while we are knocking on the pedals just to stay in the race.

So much has changed- so let’s talk about the race up front.

With Rolland in the break today, it was always going to be hard to beat him. Especially if you see how well he went last year by winning on top Alp d’huez. The only hard part was making sure the break got to the bottom of the final climb with enough time to make it to the finish. Especially when the GC guys start turning up the heat.

Rolland seemed to do things just right, except for the one corner on a downhill in which he dropped himself for a close inspection of the asphalt. He got up pretty quickly and joined the front guys but I am sure he was thinking it might just be “race over” and for such a stupid crash.

Obviously it was not that bad as he went on to blow everybody away on one of the hardest days in the Tour.

The Race was much more exciting behind in the Peleton, and Rolland was losing out on TV exposure because Evans and a few others woke up today thinking they wanted to bring the fight to Wiggins.

The first of the GC guys to try was Evans, he sent Vangarderen up the road and then bridged across. Seemed like a good idea but it was way to early in my opinion. Cadel should rather have waited till the last climb of the day when Sky’s riders were more wasted. When he attacked, Rogers just kept riding like nothing was happening and finally a spent Cadel came back and then struggled from there to the stage finish.
It’s not often Cadel attacks and it’s never really been in his character, its good to see him trying but its better he does it at the right time. He was the biggest Loser today and found himself been moved right off the podium places.

Nibali tried a few times but a lot more intelligently, he was also watched a lot closer by the Sky riders. It seems Nibali is the one rider Wiggins is a bit scared of right now. Besides his own team-mate Froome, I mean.

Making peace for today

Nibali- a few times, managed to get a good gap and I’m not sure but think that if it wasn’t for Froome that Wiggins could have responded all the time.
At one point Froome hit out and looked to want to make a difference himself but directly got the call on the radio to say that Wiggins needs his help at the back. Just that little gesture right there is going to have people thinking Froome should win the race and not Wiggins.

It’s always a difficult thing when you have such a strong team around you. If Froome was riding for a different team, he could have possibly been given sole leadership- which he seems to deserve. But it’s not an easy role. Lots of guys leave the supporter role because they seem to be better than their captain then when alone never get to the same heights.
I’m not saying Froome can’t be better than Wiggins, I’m just saying it is easier riding in a helper’s role and looking good than it is in a leadership role with all the pressures that come with it.

Froome gets the radio call!

It’s going to be interesting in the next few days because the few GC contenders are really going to have to fight hard to get on the podium- let alone go for Yellow.
Guys in 5th place on GC are almost 5 mins down so life becomes more interesting now as almost everybody can go on the attack. Sky has now got their hands full even though other things come in to play like team GC and lower GC places. For example if the 9th placed rider gets away, takes 5 mins, he is up to 4th on GC but you can be sure all the riders in front of him don’t want to lose their places so it all becomes like mini races in the race…

Tomorrow is 226kms and after today nobody is going to enjoy it.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 13, 2012 6:31 am

    Developing into such an interesting tour, Robbie!! I do support Froome and believe he is a very talented rider but agree that the strength of the team is bigger than the power of 1. So it may be best for him to wait for his turn and as you say as well to be the second option if Wiggins fails. The tour is stil a long way from Paris.

  2. cathy raats permalink
    July 13, 2012 6:35 am

    Informative and down to earth as ever good to have an insiders perspective.

  3. Gregoire permalink
    July 13, 2012 6:48 am

    Really good to get the perspective of someone who has been there and actually knows what may be going through cyclists’ minds at different points on the stage/Tour. A lot’s been made of the Froome/Wiggo battle, but totally agree the pressures of leadership must make a big difference – will be interesting to see what happens if/when Froome receives a big money offer and heads elsewhere!
    Great commentary as well on Twitter btw, you’ve really upped the enjoyment factor of the Tour for me this year when stuck in the office. Gracias Robbie / HelivacEMS!

  4. Chris Bussey permalink
    July 13, 2012 6:52 am

    Firstly, Robbie thank you for a very informative insite into the going on’s in the tour.
    Working on yesterdays stage. Wiggans is the best TT rider, Froome had the legs in the hills today and is 2 min plus behind Wiggans. If he can win another stage in the hills, with team approval, thereby taking some time out on Wiggans, come the final TT, could Froome be told to just enjoy the ride and not go for a TT win they by preventing him from winning the tour.
    I believe that Froome is stronger than Wiggan and is riding below his strenght. This is a plus for him as he is not wasting energy on the hill.

    Will team tactics rule that Wiggans must win?

  5. Craig permalink
    July 13, 2012 7:42 am

    Robbie what could possibly happen if froome ignores team orders & just hits the pedals, resulting in the yellow jersey during the tour ?

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