Studio projects Friday July 15 2016 11:04 am
Today was supposed to be a mountaintop finish on the top of Mont Ventoux, but the winds had been too dangerous (up to 60 - 100kph) to take it all the way, so they cut off the final 6k of the stage.
So, here’s the problem that created that no one seemed to anticipate.
It’s Mont Ventoux, one of the iconic mountains of the Tour. It’s Bastille Day in France. You decide to shorten the race at 1:00 in the morning with the race starting around 7:00. You need to move all of those barriers and signs 6k back down the road. And all of those spectators, maybe 50,000 of them, many who have been camping for a week for the show, now have to move down the mountain.
Starting at about 3.5k from the finish line Chris Froome (leading the Tour), Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema had broken away from the other GC contenders and had about a 30 second lead and were steadily gaining ground. So, about 1k from the finish line, which no one seems to know where it was, the crowds were too crowded. And too crowded by about double. And they are frisky. Running. Flags. Outrageous dress. At about 800m to the finish one of the TV motorcycles stops dead in the road in a gap of people that couldn’t be more than 5 feet wide. Porte slams right into the back of it. Mollema falls on top. Froome falls and his bike is run over by another motorcycle. Mollema climbs over and heads forward. Porte gets organized and heads forward. Froome tries, but his bike won’t roll. He throws it down and starts to run without his bike. In the Tour de France this is a no-no. Rule 231-a.3 - The tour is a bike race, not a foot race. Everyone of importance passes Froome. A support vehicle stops and gives Froome a bike. Watching Froome try to ride it made it look like they paid $49.95 for it. No go. Finally a Sky (Froome’s team) car stops and gives Froome a decent bike and a push. Froome loses 2 minutes to everyone.
Yep, it is the organizers fault and they are catching flack from every angle. They convene a jury to decide what to do. The only logical way to do it, given no one has any idea of what a Plan B would be is to give Froome and Porte the same time as Mollema. Fortunately Mollema didn’t actually lose much time. We think.
This keeps Froome in Yellow with an extra 19 seconds gained on everyone. He might have gotten screwed out of even more time given the speed he was traveling still with 800 meters to go, but how much would be anyone’s guess. Froome seemed OK with it. We’ll see at the end of the race.
Tomorrow is an individual time trial and Froome goes off last. We’ll see if he can vent his anger into his pedals.
This is our favorite Mont Ventoux poster from 2013, a stage which Chris Froome won. We liked playing with the O2 indication and the OO in Froome’s name. You know. Just to throw some science into the mix. On the top of Mont Ventoux the O2 is getting pretty thin.
It is printed in one color, but in 2 runs as we didn’t have enough Ps and Ds to do it all at one time. The text follows the look of the road we could see from the helicopter view of the summit. See below.
It is also Bastille Day so we thought it would good to highlight another of those. We’ve included 2 in earlier entries this Tour.
Stormed the entire day with serious rain. Vincenzo Nibali won the stage. Alberto Contador fell and broke his leg. 7 serious mountain climbs. It was a tough day.