Deck at Detroit Mountain, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Detroit Mountain: Skiing & mountain biking in Detroit Lakes

Cover: Detroit Mountain Lodge, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


For half a century, locals, and visitors to the Detroit Lakes area had a local ski hill, Detroit Mountain, for winter fun on the slopes. Sadly, the resort fell into disrepair and shut down in 2004 and for a decade remained closed.

With no place to ski, the community formed a plan – to reopen Detroit Mountain as a year-round resort, with skiing, biking, and even hiking trails. They pulled together and formed a non-profit, Detroit Mountain Recreation Area, Inc., and began fund raising efforts to transform the idea into reality.

Painting from original Detroit Mountain, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Painting from original Detroit Mountain, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In 2014, after raising $8.5 million dollars in private donations, Detroit Mountain once again opened. Gone was the old lodge and in its place was a beautiful new facility. True to their vision, the resort has since offered year round activities with skiing, snowboarding, tubing, a terrain park, and cross-country ski trails, and in the summer, mountain biking with flow and downhill trails, a skills course, a Strider Adventure Zone for the little ones and hiking.

Now in its second summer season, the resort is hosting events such as the Detroit Mountain Shakedown mountain bike race. We stopped by Detroit Mountain the day before the race to learn a bit more and get a tour of the resort with General Manager, Jeff Staley.

Mountain biking

Fat tire bike rentals at Detroit Mountain, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Fat tire bike rentals at Detroit Mountain, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Detroit Mountain turned to Progressive Trail Design out of Arkansas, who has built bike parks in bike-crazy locations like Park City, Utah; Aspen, Colorado; and Castle Rock, Colorado, to build their bike trails. With trails designed for all rider levels, the Detroit Mountain trails include lift accessed downhill flow trails, contour flow trails with some nice rolling terrain, and a skills course.

Kid's Strider rentals, Detroit Mountain
Kid’s Strider rentals, Detroit Mountain, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

For the kiddos 18 months to 5 years, Detroit Mountain has a Strider Adventure Zone to get them learning balance, handling skills and the fundamentals of riding without the complication of moving pedals.

Downhill mountain bike trails
Downhill mountain bike trails
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Detroit Mountain operates a comprehensive bike rental shop with standard, premium and fat tire bikes rentals available with full day, half day and twilight options.

Bike Shop, Detroit Mountain
Bike Shop, Detroit Mountain
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Skiing and snowboarding

Intermediate slope sign
Intermediate slope sign
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As a ski bum, I can only imagine how happy Detroit Lakes skiers were when the lifts on those brand new triple chairs began to turn in 2014.

With the capability for snowmaking on 100% of the terrain, as long as it is cold enough, Detroit Mountain can keep smiles on the faces of those skiers and boarders throughout the winter months regardless of snowfall amounts. Offering day and night skiing, the resort has skiable terrain ranging from a bunny hill to black runs, and the Scheel’s Terrain Park, with tricks, jumps, and rails. The resort has a full-service ski rental facility and offers lessons as well.

Just outside the lodge, a warming hut provides additional space for resting, eating and group events in a warm and cozy atmosphere.

Kim Hull & Caitlin Rick in Warming Hut, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Kim Hull & Caitlin Rick in Warming Hut, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tubing and Cross Country Skiing

In addition to downhill skiing and boarding, the Landslide Tubing Park, served by a Magic Carpet, provides fun on the snow with no special skills or equipment needed.

For those preferring Nordic skiing, Detroit Mountain’s 7 km of groomed cross country ski trails wind through the beautiful Minnesota countryside. In the summer, the trails are used for hiking.

Dining & drinking

Kim Hull at The Horses Neck Saloon, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Kim Hull at The Horses Neck Saloon, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

All days on the hill require a bit of après time and Detroit Mountain has just the spot with the beautiful Horses Neck Saloon where you can hop on a saddle and enjoy a beer or glass of wine with fabulous mountain views.

Should hunger pangs arise, The Mountain Café offers a variety of tasty lodge fare with plenty of indoor seating or head outside to catch some sun on the deck and dine with a slopeside view.

The Mountain Café at Detroit Mountain
The Mountain Café at Detroit Mountain
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Getting there

The lodge at Detroit Mountain, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
The lodge at Detroit Mountain, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Detroit Mountain’s address is 29409 170th St, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501.

Detroit Mountain is about 3 miles from Detroit Lakes, approximately 49 miles from Fargo, ND and 214 miles from the Minneapolis-St Paul airport. Be sure and check road conditions before heading to the resort. Free parking is available at the resort.

Learn more about Detroit Mountain on their website.

Chairlifts, Detroit Mountain
Chairlifts, Detroit Mountain
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Where to stay

While we were in Detroit Lakes, we stayed at the beautiful Best Western Premier Lodge on the Lake, which is only about 3 miles from Detroit Mountain. Located along the shores of Detroit Lake, The Lodge has an indoor pool, day spa, fitness center, complimentary breakfast, spacious fireplace lounge, and a private beach.

Where to stay: The Lodge on Lake Detroit
Where to stay: The Lodge on Lake Detroit
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Kim Hull and Cleone Stewart
Kim Hull and Cleone Stewart
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Explore Minnesota and the Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce for hosting us as their guests. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Amgen Tour of California 2016, Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx-Quick Step

Santa Barbara to Sacramento: Amgen Tour of California 2016

Cover: Julian Alaphilippe, Amgen Tour of California 2016
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


The 2016 Amgen Tour of California began in San Diego, California Sunday, May 15 and wrapped up nearly 800 miles later in Sacramento on Sunday, May 22. Along the route from south to north, the riders climbed mountains, traveled the beautiful Hwy 1 along the California coastline and visited majestic Lake Tahoe.

In the end, a 23-year-old Frenchman, Julian Alaphilippe, took home the yellow jersey, something he’d had in his possession since winning the third stage of the race and taking over the race lead in Santa Barbara County.

San Diego

Amgen Tour of California 2016 press conference at San Diego Yacht Club
Amgen Tour of California 2016 press conference at San Diego Yacht Club
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A couple of days before the race began, a select group of riders met with the press at the San Diego Yacht Club. A beautiful setting, the San Diego Yacht Club dates back to 1886, when local boating enthusiasts formed the club, which has been located at its current location in Point Loma since 1924.

Pre-race press conferences typically include race official speeches, sponsor promotions, local celebrity cyclists and, of course, a handful of the cyclists riding the race.

Amgen Tour of California 2016 Coca-Cola bottles
Amgen Tour of California 2016 Coca-Cola bottles
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Amgen Tour of California 2016, Bill Walton
Amgen Tour of California 2016, Bill Walton
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

It was an all-star lineup of cyclists including 2012 Tour de France winner, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Alexander Kristoff, Julian Alaphilippe, Peter Sagan, John Degenkolb, and Taylor Phinney. Chatting under the California sun, the riders answered questions and bantered amongst themselves in the relaxed southern California atmosphere.

Taylor Phinney, John Degenkolb, Alexander Kristoff, 2016 Amgen Tour of Califoria press conference
Taylor Phinney, John Degenkolb, Alexander Kristoff, 2016 Amgen Tour of California press conference
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A day off followed the press conference, then it was time for the race to begin its journey toward the north.

Southern California

San Diego stage 1 circuit

The 108 mile Stage 1 began at Mission Bay, traveled through Balboa Park and various San Diego neighborhoods, moved to the nearby hills east of the city, then returned to a finish a couple of miles from the start, near Sea World.

Breakaway group, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 1
Breakaway group, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 1
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Seven riders quickly pulled off the front of the peloton, maintaining about a four minute lead on the peloton for the majority of the day. We spent the day in a media car in the peloton, near the breakaway group of riders.

Danny Pate, Rally Cycling
Danny Pate, Rally Cycling Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
2016 Amgen Tour of California Stage 1 breakaway
2016 Amgen Tour of California Stage 1 breakaway Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As with most breakaways, it fell apart near the end, with 2015 Amgen Tour of California winner, Peter Sagan of Tinkoff taking the stage 1 win.

Peter Sagan wins Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 1
Peter Sagan wins Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 1 in San Diego
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Peter Sagan in the yellow jersey, Tinkoff, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 1
Peter Sagan in the yellow jersey, Tinkoff, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 1
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

I’m very happy to be here again, to catch a first victory here, in the first stage. Thank you to all my teammates. Today was a good day. I came here the first time in 2010…it was a very nice race, very good organization, very nice hotels, food.  Also, the level of the race is very good, and it’s also very good for preparation because it’s good weather. Now it’s the Giro and Tour of California. And I prefer to come here to train and prepare. And also I like California for the fans, and I’ve won a lot of stages here, and I’m very happy always to return here.”
Peter Sagan

Stage 2: South Pasadena to Santa Clarita

Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 2 start line
Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 2 start line
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Day two began in South Pasadena near Rose Bowl Stadium, the site of the finish of the 2015 race. Located only six miles from downtown Los Angeles, South Pasadena is a picturesque community in San Gabriel Valley known for its tree-lined streets and historic homes.

Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 2 Start, South Pasadena, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish,
Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 2 Start, South Pasadena, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish,
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Leaving South Pasadena, the riders spent the day covering 92 miles that included visits to Big Tujunga and Little Tujunga Canyon in Angeles National Forest, before ending in Santa Clarita, which has hosted the most stages in the history of the race.

Remember the above statement from stage one that most breakaways fall don’t make it to the finish? Yeah, well, sometimes they do.

Ben King (Cannondale) and Evan Huffman (Rally) survived the stage 2 breakaway with King taking the win in Santa Clarita. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) took third along with the peloton 8 seconds later.

The win also placed King in the overall race lead, taking the yellow jersey from Peter Sagan heading into stage 3. 

I knew Evan was a pretty quick sprinter. He smoked me in both of the King of the Mountain sprints, so I was hesitant to let it come down to a sprint, but I couldn’t drop him on the climb, so in the end we both fully committed to make the breakaway stick to the finish, and in the end, Evan let out the sprint, and I was able to come around him in the finish.”
– Ben King

Ben King, Amgen Tour of California 2016
Ben King, Amgen Tour of California 2016
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

South to Central California

Stage 3: Thousand Oaks to Santa Barbara County

Julian Alaphilippe, 2016 Amgen Tour of California Stage 3
Julian Alaphilippe, 2016 Amgen Tour of California Stage 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) dominated on the Queen Stage of the Amgen Tour of California, taking the win on Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara County and the overall race lead.

The goal at the start of the day was to be in a good position in the final kilometers and I was there thanks to the hard work of my teammates, who protected me throughout the day. I felt good, left it late to attack and from then on put in a strong effort. Now I’m in yellow, which is great, and I’m prepared to take things day by day.”
– Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step

The race finished for the first time on the legendary Gibraltar Road, with the final 12 kilometers ascending at an average 8% grade.

At 10 kilometers to go, the day’s break had dissolved and the peloton began to fracture. Neilson Powless (Axeon Cycling) pulled away from the main group, riding solo for several kilometers, until he was joined by Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) and Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly).

With three kilometers remaining in the race, Stetina attacked. Alaphilippe quickly bridged to Stetina from the main group, then continued on, passing him enroute to the finish and the stage 3 win. 

Stetina finished the day in second place, as well as in the overall race, and now sits 19 seconds back.

Peter Stetina, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 3
Peter Stetina, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

George Bennett (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) was third for the day, which moved him into third place in the general classification, 31 seconds behind Alaphilippe.

I’m happy with my performance today. I didn’t know how my condition would be because I was sick in the spring classics. I want to thank the boys for their help today and the team for the possibility to train in Colorado to build up again.”
– George Bennett

Julian Alaphilippe, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 3
Peter Stetina, Julian Alaphilippe, George Bennett, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Stage 4: Thousand Oaks to Santa Barbara County

Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Peter Sagan wins stage 4 at Amgen Tour of California 2016 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) picked up another win at stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey County. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) was second and Nathan Haas (Dimension Data).

Peter Sagan, 2016 Amgen Tour of California Stage 4
Peter Sagan, 2016 Amgen Tour of California Stage 4 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

“I’m feeling pretty good after that stage. It would have better if we could have won a stage already but in the end it was a good day for us and I’m pretty happy with my form after coming back from my crash in Flanders. I think Brent and Rohan had a really good day in GC and everything went pretty well.

For me, on the uphill sections I tried to follow as if you know there is a good finish for you, you can always hang on longer. So, I tried to get over the climbs and the team did a really good job today keeping the pace pretty high. In the end, there was a little bit of gambling about how the finish would go. I’ve beaten [Peter] Sagan a few times already but this time he won so next time I will have to try and beat him again.”
Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing Team 

Greg Van Avermaet, Peter Sagan, Nathan Haas, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 4 podium Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) retained the overall lead, now 22 seconds in front of Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) and 37 seconds ahead of George Bennett (Team LottoNL-Jumbo).

Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Julian Alaphilippe, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 4 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Northern California

Stage 5: Lodi to Lake Tahoe

Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 5, South Lake Tahoe
Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 5, South Lake Tahoe Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Toms Skujins (Cannondale) survived the breakaway to win stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California at Heavenly Mountain in South Lake Tahoe. Adam De Vos (Rally) was second and Xabier Zandio (Team Sky) was third.

Toms Skujins wins 2016 Amgen Tour of California Stage 5
Toms Skujins wins 2016 Amgen Tour of California Stage 5 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

To get into the break, you have to try at least a couple of times. I knew that the altitude was going to make people suffer, and I knew that even if it wasn’t the steepest hills that the race would be blown to bits. It was a good day for the breakaway. I was really happy I could get into the move, and of course, I was happy to take out the win.”
– Toms Skujins

Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx-Quick Step, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 5
Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx-Quick Step, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 5 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

No change in the top of General Classification, with Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) holding onto the overall race lead by 22 seconds over Peter Stetina (Trek Segfredo) heading into the stage 6 time trial in Folsom.

Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 5, Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx-Quick Step
Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 5, Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx-Quick Step Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Stage 6: Folsom Individual Time Trial

Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) won the stage 6 time trial in Folsom with a time of 24 minutes 16 seconds, but Julian Alaphilippe remains in yellow. Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) was second at the ITT and Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) was third.

I was fairly confident as I crossed the line that I had set the quickest time for the rest of the race. I was in a fair bit of pain, the main thing I remember was that I had that taste of metallic in my mouth for the last four or five kilometers from the lactate so it was good to get a drink and wash that out.

The wind was definitely getting stronger and stronger throughout the day which actually played into our favor a little bit with Alaphilippe because he is a smaller rider and would have been blown around a little bit more. In the end it didn’t make too much of a difference with the stage win, that was my goal for the day as well as trying to take time out. So, it was still a good day, even if we didn’t get the yellow jersey.”
– Rohan Dennis 

The ride moved Dennis into second place in the overall standings, now 16 seconds behind Alaphilippe with two stages remaining. Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) is in third 38 seconds back.

Of course I’m really happy, and a small surprise for me to stay in yellow today, because the time trial is not really my specialty.”
– Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step

Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 5, Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx-Quick Step
Julian Alaphilippe, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Stage 7: Santa Rosa to Sacramento

Alexander Kristoff, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 1
Alexander Kristoff, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha Team) took the stage 7 victory in Santa Rosa, edging out Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky).

We had to chase hard and still in the end Peter Sagan was right there with me even though he had been out there by himself all that time. Unbelievable. I was happy to be able to hold him off. I think if he had saved some energy from earlier he would have beaten me. I had wanted to see how I felt after the climbs before I put my team to work, but once we came across the last one I could tell I was OK.  I was tired, but I knew everyone else was also tired. The guys all did such a good job. It’s always good to finish it off with a win and it shows I am going the right way for the Tour de France.”
– Alexander Kristoff, Katusha Team

Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 7: Sonoma County
Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 7: Sonoma County Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Julian Alaphlippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) held on to his overall lead, which should send him to the race win at stage 8 in Sacramento.

Reflecting on the 2016 race, Alaphilippe recognized the importance of his time trial performance in his overall success, while pointing to his stage 3 victory on Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara county as the highlight:

Victory is always something special. Yesterday was a good performance for me because I’m really not a specialist and I never train with my TT (time trial) bike….I know for only 20k’s (kilometers), I can do something good.”
– Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step

Stage 8: Sacramento

Julian Alaphilippe, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Stage 4
Julian Alaphilippe, Amgen Tour of California 2016 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) became the youngest winner of the Amgen Tour of California, winning the 2016 race in Sacramento at the age of 23.

It was stressful today, because everyone wanted to stay at the front and fought for a better position. Usually, I’m not nervous, but today things were different, as the victory was closer and closer. Thankfully, I had a powerful team around me, which was always in charge, and as soon as Tom Boonen hit the front with me safely tucked behind him, it was like being on a holiday. Now, we’ll celebrate the win, but once we will return home, I’ll be back on my bike, training and looking to further improve.”
– Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) picked up the final stage win of the race, edging out Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha Team) for the win in a sprint finish.

Its been a tough week, Nathan was third the other day, but we really wanted to get this stage win. It was a windy day, so we had to take on the race. The guys rode out of their skins, Jacques rode the whole day on the front, and then everyone was just really going for it. We had to use our whole lead-out to catch the break, so in the end it was a bit a case of free styling. I was on Sagan’s wheel and know this finish really well. I’ve won here before and knew that, if was in the right position I should win here.”
– Mark Cavendish, Dimension Data


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Tour of Utah 2015

Cover: Tour of Utah 2015
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


In its first tour since being awarded 2.HC status by the UCI, which placed the race at the same level as the Tour of Qatar, Critérium International, Amgen Tour of California and USA Pro Challenge, the Tour of Utah 2015 began in the north on August 3rd in Logan, Utah.

Kiel Reijnen, UnitedHealthcare, Tour of Utah 2015 Stage 1
Kiel Reijnen, UnitedHealthcare, Tour of Utah 2015 Stage 1 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The 2015 Tour of Utah included…

  • 712 miles/1,145.85 kilometers – second longest course in 11 years
  • 51,442 feet/15,679.5 meters of elevation gain – most climbing of any race in North America
  • 7 stages – second year for full week
  • 10 ski resorts – highest number of ski resorts passed 
  • Extended outside Utah to the Bear Lake region of Idaho
  • 3 new state parks along route – Bear Lake State Park, Antelope Island State Park and Wasatch Mountain State Park
  • 2 courses unveiled for Tour of Utah Women’s Edition: Criterium Classic in Logan and Ogden
Greg Daniels, Johann Van Zyl, Taylor Phinney, Kiel ReiJnen, Alex Howes
Greg Daniels, Johann Van Zyl, Taylor Phinney, Kiel ReiJnen, Alex Howes, Tour of Utah 2015 Stage 1 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Kiel Reijnen (United Healthcare) kicked off the race, winning the first stage in Logan after a rain-soaked day of riding, edging out fellow Boulder riders, Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin) and Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) at the line.

In Taylor Phinney’s first appearance since suffering serious injuries in a crash 62 weeks ago at Nationals, Phinney stepped on the podium.

Tour of Utah 2015 Stage 1
Tour of Utah 2015 Stage 1 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Throughout the week, the race made visits to Tremonton, Ogden, Antelope Island, and Bountiful, Soldier Hollow, Heber Valley, Salt Lake City, Snowbird and Park City.

Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Kiel Reijnen (United Healthcare) , Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) Tour of Utah 2015 Stage 1
Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Kiel Reijnen (United Healthcare), Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) Tour of Utah 2015 Stage 1 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Jure Kocjan (Team Smartstop) won the bunch sprint in Ogden and picked up the stage 2 win. Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Racing Team) was second and Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) was third.

Jure Kocjan, Team SmartStop, Tour of Utah 2015 Stage 2
Jure Kocjan, Team SmartStop, Tour of Utah 2015 Stage 2 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With the win, Jure Kocjan took the yellow jersey from Kiel Reijnen, then passed it on to Michael Woods following stage 3. As the race made its way around northern Utah, fans turned out to cheer their favorite team and watch the behind the scenes action.

BMC Racing Team, Tour of Utah 2015 Stage 2
Tour of Utah 2015 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Kiel Reijnen, Danny Summerhill, UnitedHealthcare, Tour of Utah 2015 Stage 2

Joe Dombrowski took over the race lead with stage 6 and held on until the finish line in Park City, winning the overall race for 2015.

Greg Hull, Tour de France 2015

Behind the scenes at the Tour de France

Cover photo: Greg Hull shooting at Tour de France 2015
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


No matter which bike race we are covering, rarely a day goes by without people telling us how they wished they could do what we do. It’s true, covering pro cycling is pretty cool.

But, it’s also a lot of work. We multitask and function on little sleep to get it done – and, we honestly rarely accomplish everything we want to in a day before it’s time to move on to the next town. So, I thought I’d share what it’s like with life on the road covering the Tour de France. I chose stage 3 which began in Antwerp and ended on the Mur de Huy to provide a glimpse into our day.

7:00 am

First thing each morning, after attempting to remember what town we are in, is to grab the laptop, check social media, post the day’s route map, and have a look again at the technical race guide to plan the day.

Each race provides a technical race guide for the teams, support staff, and media that contains route information, time schedules, maps, parking locations, team hotels and host city information. It is frequently referred to as the “race bible.”

A day at the Tour de France
A day at the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

8:00 am

Following a quick shower and jamming everything back in the bags, it’s back to editing photos from the day before. We each typically shoot several hundred to a thousand images in a day, so many photos will remain unedited until after the race.

A day at the Tour de France
A day at the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

11:00 am

At this stop, we stayed in the same hotel as Movistar. Heading down to check out, we step off the elevator into a lobby filled with fans waiting in hopes of getting a photo or autograph from Quintana or Valverde.

Not disappointing, Valverde appears just after us and stops for photos with fans.

A day at the Tour de France
A day at the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We head out the door and make our way behind the Movistar guys to the stage start, which is about a 10-minute walk from the hotel through the crowds.

Huy, Belgium
From the window of the car – Huy, Belgium Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We also frequently hear, “You get to see so many awesome places.” Yes, sort of. We see a lot of hotel rooms, whatever is along the side of the road as we head from start to finish each day and the scenery at the starts and finishes.

Unfortunately, there is rarely – make that never – anytime for sightseeing or exploring the beautiful host cities we find ourselves in each day. Some of the sights are stunning, such as the stage 3 start location in the center of Antwerpen/Antwerp/Anvers (it’s Antwerpen in Dutch-Flemish, Antwerp in English, Anvers in French) and at the finish in Huy.

Tour de France 2015
Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Shooting the start is the most relaxed part of each day. Riders are casual as they sign in, which at the Tour de France, is actually a push of a button by each rider creating an electronic signature.

Tommy Voeckler, Tour de France 2015
Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Following sign in, riders stop by the PowerBar tent for some snacks, chat with one another, and sign autographs for fans. On this morning, Tommy Voeckler also stopped by the Vittel water station and used some water from the melted ice to wash his tires.

Tour de France 2015
Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As sign-in grows to a close, we head to the start line. Each day actually has two starts – an unofficial start, where we were near the sign-in and an official start after a parade route/neutral zone. The riders line up, and after they depart, they ride through the neutral zone and then stop again for another ceremony and the official start.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 3 start
Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

As soon as the riders set off, we grab a takeout lunch and head for the car. Next stop, Huy.

Meanwhile back in Boulder….

 

A 1:00 pm start in Belgium means a 5:00 am start in Colorado when Todd Hofert rolls out of bed, turns on the race and begins to write. The one disadvantage of covering a race in person is that you actually see very little of it. We have the app on our phones and in Europe, the race is streamed on the Tour website with the ability to switch between moto feeds, which is really cool.

However, in reality, the majority of our day is spent navigating the off-course itinerary and editing a few photos to put up during the race. Some days we intersect with the actual race course for some mid-stage coverage, but not on this stage as we anticipated (correctly) that the Mur de Huy would be quite crowded.

Which brings us back to Todd, who writes the stage recap as it happens throughout the race, capturing the events as they occur, which on stage 3, included some serious crashes.

3:20 pm

Like Hansel and Gretel and their breadcrumbs, the race leaves a trail of signs for us to follow on an alternate route from the race to guide us from the start city to the finish line. In many locations, we actually drive the last part of the race route, which is quite helpful in understanding the last kilometers of the race course.

On the way through Huy a couple of guys stopped us and asked for a ride, so they piled in the back and we headed up the hill.

Press parking and the press center is normally very close to the finish line at races. We typically stop by the press center to grab water, head out to scout our locations to shoot the finish, then wait.

5:28 pm

The riders hit the finish line, with today’s winner being Team Katusha’s Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez. Chris Froome (Team Sky) was second and Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R La Mondiale) was third.

Fabian Cancellara, Trek Factory Racing, Tour de France 2015 Stage 3
Fabian Cancellara, Trek Factory Racing, Tour de France 2015 Stage 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), who started the day in yellow, crashed mid-way through the stage and was forced to abandon the Tour. Chris Froome (Team Sky) moved into the overall race lead.

Races are carefully choreographed presentations with thousands of people handling the countless tasks that occur each day in multiple locations. Podium at the Tour de France is managed down to the last detail, with a “director” changing the stage background with the push of a button as each jersey is presented and cueing timing with signs.

A day covering the Tour de France
A day covering the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After shooting podium, we head back into the press center, which at the Tour is massive. Todd’s article is usually in my inbox when I sit down and power up my computer and TravelWifi, our personal wifi. Travel Wifi is a sponsor and is what’s keeping us connected throughout the entire Tour no matter where we happen to be – in our hotel, in our car, in the press center, or out shooting on course.

Results go up, the recap article gets added, we each quickly edit & add the finish line and podium photos. Rider comments are added as they are obtained.

A day covering the Tour de France
A day covering the Tour de France – press tent
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

7:00 pm

Time to head out for our hotel  – always a slow process as the thousands of cars leave the parking areas and head through the small European streets.

A day covering the Tour de France
A day covering the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Our stage 3 hotel was in Namur, about 40 km away. Planning and scheduling hotels for the entire Tour took a little over three days of work and has to be done after host cities are announced but before the actual race route is published, which takes a bit of guesswork and a lot of searching.

We arrive and the guys we gave a ride up the hill were sitting in our hotel lobby. Quelle coïncidence!

9:00 pm

Time for wine, dinner and editing photos. We head to the bar, grab a table near a power outlet, and begin to work again.

A day covering the Tour de France
A day covering the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

11:00 pm – 1:00 am

Back upstairs for more work. Stage 4 is the cobble stage, so we make our plans on which sectors to cover then decide to call it a day at 1:00 am.

A day covering the Tour de France
A day covering the Tour de France
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

One day of 21 at the Tour de France.

A day covering the Tour de France
A day covering the Tour de France – Kim Hull shooting near finish line
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Chris Froome wins 2015 Tour de France; André Greipel takes Stage 21

Cover: Tour de France 2015 Stage 21
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) won the Champs-Élysées bunch sprint at the final finish of the Tour de France 2015, beating Bryan Coquard (Team Europcar) and Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) at the line.

Movistar rounded out the final podium with Nairo Quintana (COL) coming in second and Alejandro Valverde (ESP) in third.

DN7R8361
Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde, Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Chris Froome (Team Sky) arrived at the finish after the ceremonial ride to Paris to claim his final 2015 Tour de France Maillot Jaune.

Of course, I want to start off by thanking my team-mates. Without you guys I would not be standing up here. Richie, Wout, Ian, G, Pete, Luke, Nico and Leo. My utmost respect and gratitude. This is your yellow jersey as much as it is mine.

Thank you to all the support staff of Team Sky. Your endless dedication and commitment is what has got us through the tough moments of this year’s Tour de France.

The maillot jaune is special, very special. I understand its history, good and bad. I will always respect it. Never dishonour it, and I will always be proud to have won it. Thank you very much.”
Chris Froome, Team Sky

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the points category, taking his 4th green jersey in a row.

DN7R7754
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

I am very happy because this year was a very hard fight from the first stages. My role in the team was different from previous years. I’m very happy that I haven’t crashed and that I can make it here in the green jersey – it’s a special feeling for me. It has been a different Tour for me but also a very big experience to ride with Alberto Contador, he is a big champion and I’ve also had a lot of fun in this year’s Tour on the road and together with my teammates.

For sure it was a very big fight from the start and I knew that it wasn’t easy. There was less pressure on me to create individual results but I also had a different role. But the pressure overall has been high, we have been very concentrated but it has been a big experience for me. I’ve tried to win stages, but it was not easy. I think I can be satisfied, I have been very aggressive and I have the green jersey.”
Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo

DN7R8118
Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Froome also won the King of the Mountains category.

DN7R8229
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Quintana topped the Best Young Rider category, picking up the white jersey for the race.

DN7R8145
Nairo Quintana, Movistar Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Movistar took overall top team honors.

DN7R8198
Movistar Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 Top 10

  1. André Greipel (GER) #75
    LOTTO-SOUDAL 02h 49′ 41″
  2. Bryan Coquard (FRA) #122
    TEAM EUROPCAR  same time
  3. Alexander Kristoff (NOR) #96
    TEAM KATUSHA same time
  4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) #211
    MTN-Qhubeka same time
  5. Arnaud Demare (FRA) #24
    FDJ same time
  6. Mark Cavendish (GBR) #112
    QUICK STEP-Etixx same time
  7. Peter Sagan (SVK) #47
    TINKOFF-SAXO same time
  8. John Degenkolb (GER) #81
    TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN same time
  9. Michael Matthews (AUS) #105
    ORICA GREENEDGE same time
  10. Ramunas Navardauskas (LTU) #168
    TEAM GARMIN-CANNONDALE same time
DN7R7821
Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Final Top 10

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 84h 46′ 14″
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 84h 47′ 26″ +1:12
  3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 84h 51′ 39″ + 5:25
  4. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 84h 54′ 50” + 8:36
  5. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 84h 56′ 02” + 9:48
  6. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 84h 57′ 01” + 10:47
  7. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 85h 01′ 28″ +15:14
  8. Mathias Frank  (SUI) #181
    IAM CYCLING 85h 01′ 53″+ 15:39
  9. Romain Bardet (FRA) #82
    AG2R La Mondiale 85h 02′ 14″ + 16:00
  10. Pierre Rolland (FRA) #121
    Team Europcar 85h 03′ 44″ + 17:30

DN7R7836
Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Stage 21
Date: 26 July, 2015
Start: Sèvres
Finish: Grand Paris Seine Ouest / Paris Champs-Élysées
Distance: 107 km


Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 route map

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-21-route-map
Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 route map

Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 profile

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-21-profile
Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 profile

Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 last km

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-21-last-km

Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.

Tour de France 2015 20 Alpe d'Huez

Tour de France 2015 Stage 20: Thibaut Pinot conquers Alpe d’Huez; Froome heads to Paris in yellow

Cover: Tour de France 2015 Stage20, Alpe d’Huez
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert


Alpe d’Huez has hosted 28 previous stage finishes in the Tour de France, more than any other summit climb. Crowds lining the twenty-one switchbacks have been estimated to be over a million in years past. Many have been camping there for several days and their anticipation has been growing by the minute. Strava Labs has posted a crowd sourced photo explorer dotting this year’s festivities along the slopes. As such, you can rest assured there will be a frenzy on the slopes of the Alpe d’Huez long before the race caravan. It will reach a fevered pitch when the riders arrive.
Alpe-dHuez-1024x892
The stage today again crossed the Col de la Croix de Fer as it did the day before. The Croix de Fer, a late addition to Stage 20, replaced the original plan to cross the Col du Galibier, those plans scrapped due to the danger of falling rock. Stage 20 approached the Croix de Fer from the southeast rather than the northwest approach of yesterdays stage. Today’s version of the climb would be longer but not as steep.

Chris Froome, at this stage of the race, must be ready to just get it over with. He again endured rude treatment from a person who spit on him on his way up a climb. Clearly captured on video many on Twitter have been calling for his identity along with a variety of suggestions for retaliation against him. Be aware that viral Internet karma can be a bitch.

The flag dropped at 01:18 PM local time and a group of two, then four formed at 1:20 PM. Alexandre Geniez (FDJ), Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale-Garmin), Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) made up the break that stretched out to 7:20 at the base of the Col de la Croix de Fer.

The peloton arrived at the climb to the iron cross and all was tranquillo, but it didn’t last long. Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) took his daily shot at bridging up and getting himself in the break. He brought Andriy Grivko (Astana) with him and not long after a group including Rafel Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), Winner Anacona (Movistar), Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) and Bartosz Huzarski (Bora) joined them.

Riders continued to jump across the gap to the chase group, it swelled to ten with the addition of Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale).

AG2R came to the front to assist Sky with the chase looking to secure the Polka-Dot Jersey for Romain Bardet, a feat likely come up short. The tempo set by AG2R brought most of the counter-attacking group back into their fold only Majka, Plaza and Anacona managed to stay clear.

The pace set by Ag2R was relentless. The pressure reeled the Majka group back and reduced the gap to the four leaders to five minutes halfway up the climb. Richie Porte could be seen following the wheels and shoveling calories in preparing for what was sure to be a painful day in the saddle, his assignment, to protect Froome as long as possible.

Jean-Christophe Peraud buried himself for Bardet and fell out the back spent. Astana and Movistar now starting to show their colors at the front. The pace dismantled Saxo as Roman Kreuziger and Mic Rogers could be seen falling away from the pace. Sky suffering the same and just like that Chris Froome was left with only Richie Porte.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) launched the first GC sortie as Richie Porte tried to muster a reaction and was looking around for help that wouldn’t come. Nicolas Roche brought himself back up to his team leader, Geraint Thomas struggling unsuccessfully to do the same. The pains and pressures of protecting the Yellow Jersey were turning people inside out. And if anyone were paying attention to the front of the race, Alexandre Geniez attacked at the front 6km from the top, leaving his break-mates scattering. Stage 20 was already living up to its billing.

Nairo Quintana was the next to go and he shot up the road as Roche again popped out the back. Movistar talked all-in and they were backing it up. Quintana and Valverde joined forces their plan taking form, the Yellow Jersey group reduced to four riders, Nibali and Contador along for the ride. Porte was holding them at ten seconds but at what cost? Contador dropped off the pace and Valverde struggled to hang on to Quintana, his mission to lead Quintana down the descent.

Vincenzo Nibali was next to attack and Froome was forced to follow. Froome shut it down immediately as he would have the day prior had it not been for a mechanical, the message delivered loud and clear. Quintana and Valverde would go over the summit in fifth and sixth place with a gap of ten seconds. Froome would follow and Romain Bardet’s hope for holding the Polka Dot jersey was over. The chase regrouped on the descent as Sky exhaled and returned to the front.

Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Alpe d'Huez
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Alpe d’Huez Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With 26km to go, Alexandre Geniez had 1.40 lead over Bak and Edet, 3.10 over Pinot, Rolland, Plaza, Serpa, Hesjedal, Anacona and Navardauskas, and 4 minutes over the yellow jersey group led by five riders from Team Sky. The stage had been set as the riders approached Bourg-d’Oisans, the gap 3:48 at the 13.8km to go KOM banner. Karma would catch up to Nibali as he flatted right before the start of the climb, Astana coming to his aid en masse.

Nairo Quintana went on the attack almost immediately. Richie Porte able to cover it and Froome lifting his tempo in response. Move one covered. Quintana launched attempt number two, Sky covering but Froome struggling behind. Wout Poels sat on Quintana and Porte marshaled the duties to drag Froome back to Quintana once more.

Nairo Quintana, Movistar, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Alpe d'Huez
Nairo Quintana, Movistar, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Alpe d’Huez Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Ryder Hesjedal now on the attack closing the gap to Alexandre Geniez up ahead dragging Pinot, the teammate of the stage leader along. Nibali was still trying to come back from his misfortune. The Yellow Jersey group was shrinking, with Sky still well represented. Robert Gesink, Mathias Frank, Romain Bardet and Bauke Mollema unable to maintain contact with the Froome group.

Ryder Hesjedal, Cannondale-Garmin, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Alpe d'Huez
Ryder Hesjedal, Cannondale-Garmin, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Alpe d’Huez Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Alejandro Valverde rode away from the Yellow Jersey group and Sky was content to let him go. Nairo Quintana, as he had done earlier on the Croix de Fer, jumped to get across but again Sky was equal to the task. Another dig would shed Froome and Contador. Valverde accelerated again as Quintana used him as a carrot. The two teammates joined and pried open the gap as Pinot and Alexandre Geniez joined forces at the front of the race, Hesjedal burying himself to get back to them.

Sep Vanmarcke, Lotto NL-Jumbo, Tour de France 2015 2015 Alpe d
Sep Vanmarcke, Lotto NL-Jumbo, Tour de France 2015 2015 Alpe d”Huez Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Quintana’s tempo burned Valverde but teammate Winner Anacona, a member of the early break, was just up the road ready to take over the work for Quintana, the gap to Froome continued to grow. Ryder Hesjedal attacked Thibaut Pinot with 7km to go but Pinot was able to cover it and attack in return. Quintana was charging hard from behind using Anacona to prepare his next assault.

Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Alpe d'Huez
Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Alpe d’Huez Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Wout Poels would fade at 5km leaving just Porte to take care of Froome. Nairo Quintana refreshed from following Anacona’s wheel accelerated again opening the gap further, now up to 50 seconds.

Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20
Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The race started to show shades of the 1989 come-from-behind victory of Greg Lemond as Nairo Quintana continued his assault on Le Alpe d’Huez, Chris Froome mustering all the courage he could find to fend off the Columbian.

Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20
Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Thibaut Pinot clinging to hope for a stage victory was suffering beyond words. That suffering would pay off and the Frenchman would etch his name in the history of the famed mountain taking the stage ahead of Nairo Quintana.

DN7R7393-1024x682
Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In the end, Quintana would come up short of both goals of the day, 18 seconds shy of the stage win and 1:12 short of Yellow.

Nairo Quintana, Movistar Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20
Nairo Quintana, Movistar Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A bitter lesson for the young rider recognizing the 1:28 lost in Stage 2 after missing the split in the winds of Holland. Froome would ride home in fifth place, plenty of time in hand to clinch the overall victory. Chapeau.

Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Tour comes to its ceremonial end tomorrow in Paris, this years edition to go down in the annals as one of the great races in history.

Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Top 10

  1. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) #21
    FDJ 03h 1′ 21″
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 03h 17′ 39″ + :18
  3. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) #164
    TEAM GARMIN-CANNONDALE 03h 1′ 02″ + :41
  4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 03h 18′ 59″ + 1:38
  5. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 03h 18′ 59″ + 1:38
  6. Pierre Rolland (FRA) #121
    TEAM EUROPCAR 03h 19′ 02″ + 1:41
  7. Richie Porte (AUS) #35
    TEAM SKY 03h 19′ 32″ + 2:11
  8. Winner Anacona (COL) #52
    MOVISTAR TEAM 03h 19′ 53″ + 2:32
  9. Wouter Poels (NED) #34
    TEAM SKY 03h 20′ 11″ + 2:50
  10. Ruben Plaza (ESP) #156
    LAMPRE – MERIDA 03h 20′ 11″ + 2:50

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 20

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY  81h 56 ’33″
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 81h 57′ 45″ +1:12
  3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 82h 01 ’58″ + 5:25
  4. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 82h 05 ‘ 09” + 8:36
  5. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 82h 06′ 21” + 9:48
  6. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 82h 07′ 20” + 10:47
  7. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 82h 11 ’47″ +15:14
  8. Mathias Frank  (SUI) #181
    IAM CYCLING 82h 12′ 12″+ 15:39
  9. Romain Bardet (FRA) #82
    AG2R La Mondiale 82h 12′ 33″ + 16:00
  10. Pierre Rolland (FRA) #121
    Team Europcar 82h 14′ 03″ + 17:30

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 20

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Romain Bardet, AG2R La Mondiale
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar

There were so many things going through my mind going up that last climb. There were moments where I thought, ‘hold on a second I could be in danger here’. But then always having my team-mates with me and having Wout and Richie there all the way until the end. Especially after the job all the guys had done today.
Chris Froome, Team Sky

We fought all that we could to try and gain the time we had lost on Froome, with an attacking strategy from far, far away from the finish, trying to isolate him at the Croix de Fer, yet we couldn’t open a big gap and we had to give all into the final ascent. Winner Anacona did an amazing job for me, riding strong and steady through most of Alpe d’Huez, and the whole team helped me much from the very start, but it wasn’t to be today.

I leave the race satisfied. We lost the Tour into the first week, but I’ll stay content after all good things we found during this race: I’ve got an excellent team, which always took care and supported me, and we all are happy with this. Alejandro? I’m so, so excited about his podium finish. It’s something he searched for during most of his sporting career, and he got it today. There are many people who don’t know the kind of rider he is: he wins from January to December, no matter if it’s a classic, a one-week race… and even podium finishes in three-week grand tours. It’s already a decade since he’s on top of the sport and many people don’t value enough what he does and criticized him. He’s a superb rider and a wonderful person.”
Nairo Quintana, Movistar


Stage 20
Date: 25 July, 2015
Start: Modane Valfréjus
Finish: Alpe d’Huez
Distance: 110.5 km

Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 route map

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-20-route-map.jpg

Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 profile

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-20-profile.jpg

Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 climbs

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-20-Col-de-la-Croix-de-Fer-.jpg

56 km – Col de la Croix de Fer (2 067 m)29 km de montée à 5.2% – category  H

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-20-Alpe-d-Huez.png

110.5 km – ALPE D’HUEZ13.8 km de montée à 8.1% – category H

Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.

Vincenzo Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire

Vincenzo Nibali takes his first stage win of the 2015 Tour de France at stage 19 on La Toussuire

Cover: Vincenzo Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert


Three stages remained in the 2015 Tour de France, each becoming progressively shorter in length. The 138km stage to La Toussuire today, the longest of the three and perhaps the most difficult, but falling short on the hype of its successor, the Stage 20 finale on the fabled switchbacks of Le Alpe d’Huez.

IAM Cycling, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire
IAM Cycling, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

One would have thought that the general classification was pretty well defined coming into the final weekend, only disaster likely to upset the order that has been established. But if there ever were a stage for disaster, the Tour is it, as are the final days in the Alps after three weeks of surviving the world’s most difficult bike race.

Peter Sagan, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire
Peter Sagan, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The interesting fact of the day, according to InfoStrada Sports Twitter account, Peter Sagan has surpassed Sean Kelly in outright 3rd place for the most green jerseys in Tour de France history with 68. Only Erik Zabel (88) and Freddy Maertens (70) have more. Peter Sagan is only 25 years old and should move into second place behind Zabel at the end of this years Tour.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne
Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Joaquim Rodriguez picked up where he left off yesterday and attacked the first climb right out of the gate. He succeeded in gathering the ten points for the first man over the top. Along the way attacks from Valverde, Nibali, Contador, Barguil, and Mollema found Chris Froome behind the action painfully aware that this would not be an easy day in the saddle.

A group of 21 riders would establish itself on the descent and through the sprint point. The riders in the break were: Tanel Kangert (Astana), Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Roman Kreuziger and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo), José Herrada and Malori (Movistar), Tony Gallopin and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Joaquim Rodriguez and Alberto Losada (Katusha), Rigoberto Uran (Etixx), Pierre Rolland, Cyril Gautier and Romain Sicard (Europcar), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida), Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Stef Clement and Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling), Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) chasing to include himself in that break, the race now just 10km from the start of the Col de la Croix de Fer.

The peloton hit the Croix de Fer 2:12 behind the stage leaders being led by Lotto NL-Jumbo and the welcome sight of Laurens Ten Dam tapping out the tempo on the front. The grupetto started to form.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire
Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Pierre Rolland attacked his break-mates on the climb and back in the peloton, Astana came to the front to set up a move for Vincenzo Nibali. Astana’s pace would shed significant weight from the Yellow Jersey group. The breakaway all caught and passed with exception of Rolland and a chase of two, Ruben Plaza and Rigoberto Uran. Robert Gesink dangled off the back of the Yellow Jersey group. Geraint Thomas suffering a similar fate and Froome was left with only Wouter Poels to support him.

Alejandro Valverde launched an attack ahead of the banner marking 5km to the summit. His gap opened quickly and Wout Poels summoned what courage he had left to try and contain the move for his team leader. Robert Gesink was able to regain contact with the Yellow Jersey group and appeared to have recovered. Valverde continued to try and consolidate the gap or at least keep the pressure on the Sky led chase. The Movistar plan to go all in for the overall win was taking shape.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire
Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Chris Froome suffered a mechanical and in a show of poor sportsmanship, Vincenzo Nibali looked at him twice, recognized the race leader was stopping and immediately launched an attack. The real contenders honored the unwritten code of conduct and waited for the race leader to get back on his bike.

Vincenzo-Nibali-Astana-Pro-Team-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-19-1024x682
Vincenzo Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Pierre Rolland would lead the race over the summit followed by Nibali at 1:06 and Romain Bardet attacked the Yellow Jersey group in hopes of resting the Polka Dot jersey away from Joaquim Rodriguez who had fallen back to the peloton. Chris Froome grabbed sixth place points.

Nibali continued his pursuit of stage leader Pierre Rolland on the descent of the Croix de Fer and up the Col du Mollard. He would catch him with dirty hands shortly after they crested the climb, the Yellow Jersey group now 2:00 behind. Romain Bardet made his move off the front of that group attempting to consolidate his position in the mountain points competition.
Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-19-La-Toussuire-1024x679
Movistar was straight back to the front on the start of the final climb. Rolland and Nibali had 1:45 in hand on the peloton. The tempo in the select group accompanying the Yellow Jersey was high and the group began to thin out as expected. Nibali attacked Rolland with 16km left to the summit finish, Rolland was cooked.

Status quo up the climb, Chris Froome and Sky benefitting from the Nibali move, the pressure to contain it now on the shoulders of those riders such as Contador and Gesink trying to defend their 5th and 6th place GC standing, the gap between Nibs and the Yellow Jersey group of 11 riders 2:23 as they rode beneath the 10km to go banner.

Quintana attacked. Froome forced to chase with Contador and Valverde on his wheel. Froome’s pace cracked them both. Gesink, who was dropped came back and rode past Valverde and Contador, Quintana still prying open the gap to Froome. Nibali’s gap was shrinking.

Vincenzo Nibali would hang on despite the barrage from behind. His stage win and the subsequent gap moved him up the general classification into fourth place overall jumping Robert Gesink, Geraint Thomas and Alberto Contador. Nairo Quintana finished second at :44 seconds and Froome came in third :29 seconds behind Quintana. Pinot, Bardet, Valverde and Mollema would lead the remainder of contenders home.

The fatigue of defending the Yellow Jersey started to show in Team Sky leaving Chris Froome isolated and forced to defend himself. Will it be too little too late for the others? Froome will take his 2:38 margin into the penultimate stage to Alpe d’Huez tomorrow and barring a really bad day for the leader it should be enough for him to ride the Yellow into Paris on Sunday. Regardless of the order at the top of the famed Alp, expect more aggressive last ditch effort racing tomorrow.

It was a day where I had to survive. I started with bad sensations and cramps all day so I had to save energy as much as I could. I sent Majka to pull at the front and he set the pace and it calmed a bit down. Things turned out quite well. Nibali is now ahead in the GC and I congratulate him for that. It’s true he did a very good job today. In what regards me, I think it deserves more merit to have reached this point than previous victories. I had strong cramps throughout the day and I was praying to make it through. Tomorrow will be another day.”
Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 Top 10

  1. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 04h 22′ 53″
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 04h 23′ 37″ + :44
  3. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 04h 24′ 07″ + 1:14
  4. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) #21
    FDJ 04h 25′ 19″ + 2:26
  5. Romain Bardet (FRA) #12
    AG2R La Mondiale 04h 25′ 9″ + 2:26
  6. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 04h 25′ 19″ + 2:26
  7. Bauke Mollema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 04h 25′ 19″ + 2:26
  8. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    LOTTO TEAM NL – JUMBO 04h 25′ 19″ + 2:26
  9. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAX 04h 25′ 19″+ 2:26
  10. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) #66
    BMC RACING TEAM 04h 25′ 19″ + 2:26

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 19

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 78h 37′ 34″
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 78h 40′ 12″ +2:38
  3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 78h 42 ‘ 59″ + 5:25
  4. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 78h 44′ 18” + 6:44
  5. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 78h 45′ 30” + 7:56
  6. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 78h 46′ 29” + 8:55
  7. Mathias Frank  (SUI) #181
    IAM CYCLING 78h 50′ 13″+ 12:39
  8. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 78h 50′ 56″ +13:22
  9. Romain Bardet (FRA) #82
    AG2R La Mondiale 78h 51′ 42″ + 14:08
  10. Pierre Rolland (FRA) #121
    Team Europcar 78h 55′ 01″ + 17:27

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 19

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM):  Romain Bardet, AG2R La Mondiale
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar

Stage 19
Date: 24 July, 2015
Start:  Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne
Finish: La Toussuire – Les Sybelles
Distance: 138 km

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 route map

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-19-route-map.jpg

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 profile

Stage-19-profile.png

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 climbs

15.5 km – Col du Chaussy (1 533 m) (D77-VC)15.4 km de montée à 6.3% – catégory 1
83 km – Col de la Croix de Fer (2 067 m)22.4 km de montée à 6.9% – catégory H
103 km – Col du Mollard (1 638 m)5.7 km de montée à 6.8% – catégory 2
138 km – LA TOUSSUIRE (1 705 m)18 km de montée à 6.1% – catégory 1

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-19-climb-La-Toussuire.png

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-19-climb-Col-de-Croix.png

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-19-climb-Col-du-Chaussy.png

Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.

Romain Bardet, Tour de France Stage 18, Montvernier

Romain Bardet climbs to a stage 18 victory at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne

Cover: Romain Bardet, Tour de France Stage 18, Montvernier
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert


Following a dramatic first day in the Alps the race set out once again into the mountainous terrain of southeast France. The stage, despite passing over seven categorized climbs, lacked a summit finish giving way yet again to the strong possibility that a break could succeed. A tough stage proceeded it and two difficult stages with summit finishes follow leaving little more than table scraps for ambitious non-GC men trying to grab an elusive stage win. Today seemed ripe for such a coup.

Regardless of what happened in relation to success or failure of a breakaway, Chris Froome’s nearest rivals continued with a resolve to attack the Yellow Jersey in hopes of finding a chink in his armor. Despite these claims, short of flicking a few flies from his lanky elbows, Chris Froome has been up to the challenge. Unless the trio of Spanish speaking contenders were to cooperate with a relentless barrage of attacks against the leader, he seemed poised to continue his dominance right through the summit of Alpe d’Huez and on to his second Tour de France title in Paris on Sunday.

Chris-Froome-Team-Sky-TMontvernier-Stage-18-Tour-de-France-2015
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Montvernier Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In addition to the Stage 16 DNS of Laurent Didier (Trek Factory Racing) another five riders would succumb to the brutality of the race with a DNF status. The most notable of course were Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep). They were joined by Sam Bennet (Bora-Argon 18), Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) and Jerome Coppel (IAM Cycling). South Africa’s Louis Meintjes of MTN-Qhubeka did not start today’s stage due to illness leaving 162 riders in the race. Sébastien Chavanel (FDJ) claimed the honor of the Lanterne Rouge three hours and thirty-three minutes behind the race lead.

As has become customary the attempts to form a break were almost immediate. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) took the initiative right at the base of the days first climb, the Col Bayard, whose summit was just 6.5km into the stage. He was followed straight away by Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Julian Arredondo (Trek). Halfway up the climb, 16 riders would bridge to join them followed by another group of 10. 12km in and a break of 29 had established itself.

Andrew-Talansky-Damiano-Caruso-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-18
Andrew Talansky, Damiano Caruso, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Montvernier Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The 29 breakaway members were: Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Romain Bardet, Jan Bakelants and Christophe Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Roman Kreuziger and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jonathan Castroviejo and Winner Anacona (Movistar), Damiano Caruso and Rohan Dennis (BMC), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Georg Preidler (Giant), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Michael Matthews and Simon Yates (Orica), Pierre Rolland, Cyril Gautier, Romain Sicard and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Julian Arredondo and Bob Jungels (Trek), Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida), Andrew Talansky, Ryder Hesjedal and Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin), Stef Clement (IAM), Jan Barta (Bora), Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka). The best place rider in the break on GC being Romain Bardet, 12th at 16.04. The Peloton was at 1.35 at km 14.

The result over the Cat 2 Col Bayard: Joaquim Rodriguez-5 points, Jakob Fuglsang-3 points and Thibaut Pinot-2 points. It would appear as though “Purito” was growing tired of borrowing the Polka-Dots from Chris Froome and he was out to earn them rightfully. The cat 3 Rampe du Motty was next on their plate and Rodriguez again passed first and scored two KOM points while Serge Pauwels took one. Rodriguez now within a couple of points of Froome. The gap to the peloton had grown to five minutes at the 45km mark.

DN7R6372
Serge Pauwels, MTN-Qhubeka, Tour de France 2015 Stage 1 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rodriguez would again claim the top spot and two points for the côte de La Mure drawing even with Froome at 61 points apiece in the mountain classification, the battle of the day thus far. A few attempts to whittle down the size of the break all failed and Joaquim Rodriguez would again claim maximum points over the top of the fourth of seven climbs, the Col de Malissol with Serge Pauwels again chasing him over in second. News came across that Mark Renshaw (Etixx – Quick Step) had abandoned, leaving Mark Cavendish without his favorite lead out man, a key ingredient for his success on the Champs-Élysées.

Yesterday at the end of the stage I came down with a migraine before the final climb, and the pain never went away overnight,” Renshaw said. “I woke up with the same pain this morning. It’s pain from really stiff muscles in my neck, and that pain from the stiffness has gone up into my head in the form of a migraine.  Every hole, every bump, every rough part of the road I could feel the pain in the back of my head with this stiffness in my neck. I’ve never experienced anything like that before. Together with the team we decided for me to stop. There is no way I could keep going like this. I already knew when I woke up this morning that it’d be hard to finish the stage. The pain was so intense and never lessened.

It’s a shame that I cannot finish this Tour de France after riding with my teammates for two and a half weeks. Especially since I was getting ready for Paris on Sunday and my legs were okay. I’m really sad about it, especially since I can’t be there to help Mark Cavendish for the sprint on Sunday. But I will absolutely be there in Paris to give my full support to my teammates in any way I can, and I wish them the best of luck in these final two days in the Alps before then.”
Mark Renshaw, Etixx – QuickStep

More of the same over the Col de la Morte. Joaquim Rodriguez-5 points, Jakob Fuglsang-3 points, Georg Preidler, 2 points, and Christophe Riblon-1 point. The intermediate sprint would precede the big test of the day, the hors categorie Col du Glandon. The result of the sprint inconsequential in terms of the points competition but there was money to be had for the winner and Thomas De Gendt would claim the prize. Ironically, news was coming forward that the leader of the points competition, Peter Sagan, was off the back of the peloton.

Thomas De Gendt’s ride to the sprint line forced a split in the break with Jakob Fuglsang, Jan Bakelants, Winner Anacona, Damiano Caruso, Joaquim Rodriguez, Thomas Voeckler, Ruben Plaza, Andrew Talansky, Dan Martin and Jan Barta with him. De Gendt’s plan, however, was not for this much company and he would press on solo. The rest of the break would regroup behind him as they sped toward the Glandon. De Gendt would be caught right at the official start of the climb. The peloton were 2:10 behind at the base of the climb, the tempo lifted and the selections started almost immediately, the original break reduced to eleven.

A steady pace by the Sky led peloton would progress up the mountain, the break increasing the gap. Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) had a dig and rode off the front of the peloton. Robert Gesink and Mathias Frank joined Barguil with Richie Porte blowing off the back. Nicholas Roche, Leopold Konig and Geraint Thomas all still present in front of race leader Chris Froome.

The next attack came from Alberto Contador. Nairo Quintana looked to Froome and Sky to respond, they refused and Contador quickly jumped across to the Gesink group. 5km to the summit and the race was heating up. Romain Bardet led the break over the summit ahead of Anacona. Rodriguez popped and was struggling to hang on for the summit. He would fail to add points to his tally for the day.

Nibali launched a couple of moves against Froome followed by Quintana. Valverde popped. The Contador group suffering from the pace behind. Bardet attacked the descent and opened a gap on Anacona. Valverde raced to rejoin the Yellow Jersey group.

Romain Bardet arrived at the foot of the Lacets de Montvernier with a 41-second gap over his chasers. He was able to hold that gap status quo over the top grabbing five more points and bringing himself on par with Rodriguez, each with 68 points in the mountains classification. While Rodriguez will retain the jersey for now, his days are surely numbered.

Pierre Rolland set off in pursuit of his countryman both taking risks on the descent toward the finish. The group of the Yellow Jersey and the current top ten of the race marking each other all of the way.

DN7R6355
Romain Bardet, AG2R-La Mondiale, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Bardet offered the French and AG2R their second stage win of this years Tour holding Rolland at bay, his solo efforts successful. Winner Anacona came home third followed by Bobby Jungels and Jakob Fuglsang.

DN7R6360
Jakob Fuglsang, Pierre Rolland, Winner Anacona, Bob Jungels, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Warren Barguil, having been dropped a couple of times on the final climb was able to fight his way back to the Yellow Jersey group and lead the bunch over the line 3:02 behind Bardet whose effort moved him up into the top ten. The nine places ahead of him remaining the same as it was at the start of the day.

Peter-Sagan-Tinkoff-Saxo-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-18
Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Montvernier Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Two more days in the Alps and two summit finishes separate the riders from Paris. On tap tomorrow the climbs of Col du Chaussy (15.4 kilometre-long at 6.3%) – category 1, the Col de la Croix de Fer (22.4 kilometre-long at 6.9%) – category HC, Col du Mollard (5.7 kilometre-long at 6.8%) – category 2 and the summit finish at LA TOUSSUIRE (18 kilometre-long at 6.1%) – category 1. Opportunities for Quintana, Valverde, Contador, Gesink and company are now wearing thin.

This was one of the toughest days on the bike. I wanted to try things and see what could be done but at the end, we didn’t achieve anything in particular. I dropped Valverde on Glandon, this always brings confidence but the only thing I now focus on is to recover. It was a very hard stage and my attacks were more driven by the heart than the legs. I was able to observe a few things and we will now see how I recover for tomorrow.

In order for Valverde not to be on the podium, a catastrophe must take place. He has an incredible opportunity and just by doing things the right way it’s impossible for him not to reach the podium. The sport of cycling is like this and we will have to take it day by day.”
Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo

DN7R6392
Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Top 10

  1. Romain Bardet (FRA) #12
    AG2R La Mondiale 05h 03′ 40″
  2. Pierre Rolland (FRA) #121
    TEAM EUROPCAR 05h 04′ 13″ + :33
  3. Winner Anacona (COL) #52
    MOVISTAR TEAM 05h 04′ 39″ + :59
  4. Bob Jungels (LUX) #147
    TREK FACTORY RACING 05h 04′ 39″ + :59
  5. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) #3
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 05h 04′ 39″ + :59
  6. Serge Pauwels (BEL) #218
    MTN-Qhubeka 05h 04′ 41″ + 1:01
  7. Cyril Gautier (FRA) #123
    TEAM EUROPCAR 05h 05′ 30″ + 1:50
  8. Damiano Caruso (ITA) #62
    BMC RACING TEAM 05h 05′ 30″ + 1:50
  9. Andrew Talansky (USA) #161
    TEAM GARMIN-CANNONDALE 05h 05′ 35″ + 1:55
  10. Warren Barguil (FRA) #82
    TEAM GIANT-Alpecin 05h 06′ 42″ + 3:02
Steven-Kruijswijk-Lotto-NL-Jumbo-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-18-Montvernier
Steven Kruijswijk, Lotto NL-Jumbo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Montvernier Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 18

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 74h 13′ 31″
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 74h 16′ 41″ +3:10
  3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 74h 17′ 40″ + 4:09
  4. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    TEAM SKY 69h 74h 20′ 05” + 6:34
  5. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 74h 20′ 11” + 6:40
  6. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 74h 21′ 10” + 7:39
  7. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 74h 21′ 35” + 8:04
  8. Mathias Frank  (SUI) #181
    IAM CYCLING 74h 22′ 18″+ 8:47
  9. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 74h 25′ 37″ +11:47
  10. Warren Barguil (FRA) #82
    TEAM GIANT-Alpecin 74h 26′ 23″ + 13:08
DN7R6559
Luis Ángel Maté, Cofidis-Solutions Crédits, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 18

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM):  Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar

Joaquim-Rodriguez-Team-Katusha-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-19-Montvernier
Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 Montvernier Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

It was a hard day but I felt good and immediately went on the attack with the goal to take maximum points today. Everything went well but it was hard to control all riders in the break the entire day. In the flat part at the feed zone before the Glandon I had a bad moment. It went fast and I could not take my feed bag so on the Glandon I paid for that. It was my goal to also take those 25 points or even the stage win but it was over for me at that point. However, I won’t give up. There are two mountain stages to go and I will attack again. Fuglsang and Bardet will be motivated, too, but I will fight for it.
Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha


Stage 18
Date: 23 July, 2015
Start:  Gap
Finish: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne
Distance: 185 km


Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 route map

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-18-route-mapTour de France 2015 Stage 18 profile

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-18-profile

Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 climbs

6.5 km – Col Bayard (1 264 m)6.3 km de montée à 7% – category 2
35.5 km – Rampe du Motty2.3 km de montée à 8.3% -category 3
60.5 km – Côte de la Mure2.7 km de montée à 7.5% -category 3
70.5 km – Col de Malissol2 km de montée à 8.7% -category 3
85 km – Col de la Morte (1 368 m)3.1 km de montée à 8.4% -category 2
147 km – Col du Glandon (1 924 m)21.7 km de montée à 5.1% -category H
176.5 km – Lacets de Montvernier (782 m)3.4 km de montée à 8.2% -category 2

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-18-climbs-Col-du-Glandon

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-18-climbs-Lacets-de-Monvernier

Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 last km

Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 last km

Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.

Simon Geschke solos to victory on Pra Loup; Froome moves one step closer to Paris

Cover: Simon Geschke, Team Giant-Alpecin, Tour de France 2015 Stage 17
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert


A daunting and dangerous stage coming off of a rest day and heading straight into the Alps. The Stage 17 profile appears docile enough with only a pair of cat 3’s, a pair of cat 2’s and a single category 1 climb, the penultimate climb of the day, the Col d’Allos. How riders respond to the rest day always a concern particularly when there is little opportunity to spin the legs out when the race gets going again. Some respond favorably to the rest days, others do not.

Chris-Froone-Team-Sky-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-8
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Chris Froome arrived at the start enjoying a comfortable margin on GC despite coming off a stressful week of answering to critics and fending off physical assaults on himself and his teammates, including the heinous and despicable act of a spectator (I refuse to refer to them as a cycling fan) throwing urine at the race leader.

DN7R5803-Version-2
Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Peter Sagan with a firm grip on his goal of winning the Green Jersey for a fourth year running, only an inability to finish in Paris standing between himself and that feat.

Joaquim-Rodriguez1
Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Joachim Rodriguez continued to borrow laundry from Chris Froome as the second man in the standings for the climber competition wore the Polka Dot Jersey.

Nairo-Quintana-Movistar-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-10
Nairo Quintana, Movistar, Tour de France 2015 Stage 10 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The White Jersey of the best young rider remained firmly on the shoulders of the man holding second place on GC, Nairo Quintana.

The yellow numbers and helmets of the team competition still being worn by Team Movistar.

There was one rider that did not make the start following the rest day and that was Laurent Didier (Trek Factory Racing). That left 168 riders in the race.

Nine riders were able to briefly break clear after just 3km but the peloton were quick to react and the race was back together after 3.5km. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) would give it another go, looking to make the break for a fourth straight day. He and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) were gone clear however the peloton were having none of it and they too were reeled in just 2km later. Several more attempts to form breaks were squished by the pack and riders were coming unhitched off the back. Most notably, Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) obviously suffering something from the rest day.

The race would reach the top of the first climb, the category 3 col des Lèques, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) came across the summit first taking two points and Kristjian Durasek (Lampre) one point for second place. Van Garderen already a full minute behind the action, his Tour now in jeopardy.

Every move that had been made included a very aggressive Peter Sagan. Once again he was off the front joined again by Steven Kruijswijk along with Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) but they would be caught. By this stage in the race it was glaringly apparent to everyone but Peter Sagan that he was not going to be allowed up the road. Van Garderen now reported by his team as suffering from headaches a full 3:52 behind the peloton, an example of just how quickly ones Tour fortunes can change.

Finally after 64km 28 riders were clear, and Sagan’s stubborn persistence had paid off. The break contained: Tanel Kangert (Astana), Jan Bakelants and Mikaël Chérel (AG2R-La Mondiale), Thibaut Pinot and Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ), Richie Porte and Nicolas Roche (Sky), Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jonathan Castroviejo, José Herrada and Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), John Degenkolb and Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step), Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Kristjian Durasek and Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida), Andrew Talansky and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling), Merhawi Kudus, Serge Pauwels and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN Qhubeka). Serge Pauwels and Daniel Teklehaimanot both of MTN Qhubeka would go one, two over the top of the category 3 Col de Toutes Aures.

DN7R5756
Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing Team, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Van Garderen and the small group of riders that had fallen off the back were able to reconnect with the peloton 82km into the stage. For now, Tejay was back in the race and looking to avoid losses and get through the day.

Much to his dismay, however, Alberto Contador went on the attack on the Col de la Colle-Saint-Michel and his move would up the tempo to one that only sixteen riders were able to answer, Van Garderen not one of them. He appeared to be a man defeated and he would abandon a few minutes later. The cruel reality of a race of attrition. A Tweet by Boulder native Connie Carpenter-Phinney summed it up.

Tweets-Tour-de-France-2015-stage-17.png

To be fighting for a podium in the Tour de France, and then the next minute you are sitting in the car, was really hard. It was hard to look my teammates in the eyes. It was hard to call my wife and explain to her what was going on. It was a lot of emotions.”
Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing

The result at the summit of the Col de la Colle-Saint-Michel (cat. 2): Serge Pauwels-5 points, José Herrada-3 points, Kristjian Durasek-2 points and John Degenkolb-1 point. The break regrouped on the descent, the intermediate sprint was lightly contested in Beauvezer with Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ) taking the first place points followed by John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Peter Sagan content to take third. The ascent and perhaps more notably the descent of the category 1 Col d’Allos right in front of them and the peloton behind.

With opportunities for stage wins dwindling, the 28 man break was jockeying for the right moves that would prevent Peter Sagan from landing the elusive honor of the day. Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) was able to open up a gap on the lower slopes of the Col d’Allos. Two riders, Kristjian Durasek (Lampre-Merida) and José Herrada (Movistar) giving chase and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) also trying to come across. Roche, Porte, Hesjedal, Vaugrenard, Degenkolb, Losada, Quémeneur and Edet all fell off the pace, the Sagan group in between them and the lone leader.

The peloton’s foot off the gas now well over seven minutes in arrears. Geschke’s move now looking eerily familiar to that of Ruben Plaza’s winning move into Gap two days prior. The remainder of the break less Pinot and Majka regrouped behind Geschke with a 1:45 gap.

The reigning World Champion, Michal Kwitkowski (Etixx – Quick Step) became another notable abandon and the race would explode on the descent of the col d’Allos. Riders were all over the hillside. Pinot would clip a pedal and crash on the descent. Talansky would catch and pass him. Contador would suffer a crash as well. Gesink was separated from the Yellow Jersey group in the final kilometer of the Allos and chaos ensued.

LN1A1278
Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

My wheel slipped and I fell. We tried to fix my bike but it wasn’t working and I took Peter’s bike. I tried to descend as well as I could but at the bottom of the climb I had to change back to one of my own bikes to minimize the losses. Cycling is like this, sometimes you do well sometimes you don’t. But right now the most important thing is to recove.”
Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo

Simon Geschke hit the final climb of the day, the Pra Loup, with a two-minute gap on hard charging Andrew Talansky. That gap would prove to be too great to overcome and Simon Geschke claimed a big stage win for Giant-Alpecin. Andrew Talansky followed thirty-two seconds down and Rigoberto Uran at 1:01 rounded out the podium for the day.

Simon-Geschke-Team-Giant-Alpecin-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-17
Simon Geschke, Team Giant-Alpecin, Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

I didn’t feel great. I joined the breakaway group together with John, which was a strong group.

After the sprint I attacked and started the final climb with an advantage. I had 1’30” for a long time, and I thought I’d just see what would happen.

I knew it was a difficult descent and I went pretty fast. On the last climb I gave it my all and was able to hold on to my advantage. I suffered incredibly but I cannot put this feeling into words.

This is a dream come true. After so many attempts it finally happened. I cannot believe it.”
– Simon Geschke, Team Giant -Alpecin

The truth is that it took a while today to get into the breakaway,” Uran said. “I lost a lot of energy to be in the front at the beginning. It wasn’t easy. I probably paid for the effort in the climb of first category, which is when Geschke went. I was also waiting to see what guys as Majka and Pinot were doing. Then in the downhill I tried to close the gap, but it was already too late.

Congrats to Geschke. Concerning me, I’m happy with my third place even if we are always out there to try and win a stage. This stage was really hard, and in the next days it will be just as tough, if not more tough. But I will try again in the next days. It won’t be easy, but we have to take the risk to get into the breakaway and see what we can do in the final days.”
Rigoberto Uran, Etixx-QuickStep

Back down the Pra Loup the general classification battle was taking place as promised. In a weird show of tactics, Movistar found themselves with four riders and an isolated Chris Froome however they opted to pace the Yellow Jersey up the majority of the climb. Vincenzo Nibali was present and took advantage of some renewed form to move up the GC by finishing with this group. Matthias Frank, the best-placed rider in the days break profited handsomely from his ride moving into the top ten overall.

Movistar now has a firm grip on the final two spots of the overall podium with Nairo Quintana second to Froome at 3:10 and Alejandro Valverde moving into third at 4:09 a full 2:25 ahead of fourth placed Geraint Thomas. Contador hangs on to his fifth place overall but falling to 6:40 behind the Yellow Jersey and stands 1:01 ahead of Robert Gesink in sixth place.

I felt really well today. I recovered fine and did not struggle after the rest day. We fared pretty well, as well myself as my team-mates – with the pace we rode through the Allos climb, I didn’t realized until the end of the climb that we were only four of five at the front. That’s where I tried to attack, just like I did in the finale, though I didn’t get a gap.

We didn’t have an intention of trying to turn things around today as there are days where the mountains are more demanding, and we think we’ll be able to try harder later on. Tomorrow’s stage will be complicated; the one on Friday, finishing at La Toussuire, is a route that suits me well -full of ups and downs, with serious climbs, a hard route with long ascents-; and Alpe d’Huez is a long climb whose slopes are really good for me.

There’s still room for battle. We also entered the podium with Alejandro Valverde, who has a nice chance to snatch a place into the top-3, and kept the lead in the teams’ classification, so today’s overview must be pretty good for us.”
Nairo Quintana, Movistar

Day one in the Alps is in the books and three days remain. What shake ups are in store for tomorrow?

Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 Top 10

  1. Simon Geschke (GER) #86
    TEAM GIANT-Alpecin 04h 12′ 17″
  2. Andrew Talansky (USA) #161
    TEAM GARMIN-CANNONDALE 04h 12′ 49″ +:32
  3. Rigoberto Uran (COL)  #118
    QUICK STEP-Etixx 04h 13′ 18″ + 1:01
  4. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) #21
    FDJ 04h 13′ 53″ + 1:36
  5. Mathias Frank (SUI) #181
    IAM CYCLING 04h 13′ 57″ + 1:40
  6. Steven Kruijswijk (NED) #133
    LOTTO TEAM NL – JUMBO 04h 14 ’44’ ‘ + 2:27
  7. Nicolas Roche (IRL) #36
    TEAM SKY 04h 15′ 19″ + 3:02
  8. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP) #53
    MOVISTAR TEAM 04h 15 ’21’ ‘ + 3:04
  9. Serge Pauwels (BEL) #218
    MTN-Qhubeka 04h 15′ 22″ + 3:05
  10. Adam Yates (GBR) #108
    ORICA GREENEDGE 04h 15″ 38″ + 3:21

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 17

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 69h 06 ’49”
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 69h 09′ 59″ +3:10
  3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 69h 10′ 58″ + 4:09
  4. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    TEAM SKY 69h 13′ 23” + 6:34
  5. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 64h 51 ’39” + 6:40
  6. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 69h 14 ’28” + 7:39
  7. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 69h 14 ’53” + 8:04
  8. Mathias Frank  (SUI) #181
    IAM CYCLING 69h 15 ’36’ ‘ + 8:47
  9. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 69h 18′ 36″ +11:47
  10. Warren Barguil (FRA) #82
    TEAM GIANT-Alpecin 69h 19 ’57″ + 13:08

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 17

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar


Stage 17
Date: 22 July, 2015
Start:  Digne-les-Bains
Finish: Pra-Loup Station de Montagne
Distance: 161 km


Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 route map

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-17-route-map

Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 profile

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-17-Profile

Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 climbs

40 km – Col des Lèques6 km de montée à 5.3% – category 3
67 km – Col de Toutes Aures6.1 km de montée à 3.1% -category 3
96 km – Col de la Colle-Saint-Michel (1 431 m)11 km de montée à 5.2% -category 2
139 km – Col d’Allos ( 2 250 m)14 km de montée à 5.5% -category 1
161 km – PRA LOUP (1 620 m)6.2 km de montée à 6.5% -category 2

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-17-climbs-Col-dAllos-to-Pra-Loup

Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.

The final week of the 2015 Tour de France

Article by Todd Hofert


The final week of the Tour is more appropriately a five-day affair with a rest day and the largely ceremonial ride into Paris and a subsequent sprint finish.

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-17-Profile.png

Following the second rest day on Tuesday, the riders face a demanding day that again has a general uphill profile from start to finish. The 161km Stage 17 from Digne-les-Bains to Pra Loup features five categorized climbs, the longest and most difficult the Cat 1 Col d’Allos (2,250m 14 kilometre-long climb at 5.5%). The stage finishes atop the Pra Loup (1,620m 6.2 kilometre-long climb at 6.5%). The climb itself is not long enough or steep enough to prove decisive but the short stage coupled with a leader board looking forward to the battles that are sure to ensue over the following three days could provide an opportunity for a day long break to succeed yet again, something that has become rather commonplace this year.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will run the general classification through a gauntlet not suited for the faint of heart. If the GC is not already decided, Stages 18, 19 and 20 will fully define the podiums for Paris. Nairo Quintana and Tejay Van Garderen have the most to gain and to lose respectively. Quintana believes he is within striking distance of Froome on his preferred terrain of the Alps and Tejay will be looking to ward off Alejandro Valverde who is lurking a few seconds behind both eyes narrowly focused on grabbing that final podium spot. And Contador, Thomas and Gesink all theoretically within striking distance of the podium and certainly all interested in a top five at least.

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-18-profile.png

Stage 18 on Thursday can be referred to as the queen stage of this Tour. It’s length and sheer volume of climbing earns it that distinction. The route of 186.5km from Gap to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne will ascend 7 categorized climbs including the penultimate hors categorie climb of the Col du Glandon. The GC contenders may be looking to save some energy for the next two days that culminate with summit finishes. If the action doesn’t heat up on the ascent of the Glandon, the descent may also offer an opportunity. The narrow and technical down slopes of the Glandon would suit a fearless descender such as Alberto Contador or Vincenzo Nibali well as they search for some time on the leaders. In addition, there are plenty of mountain points to be had all packed into a relatively short distance. Mix in an opportunistic escapee and this stage has all the makings for some exciting racing.

Stage-19-profile.png

Stage 19 is a monster of a stage. At a glance, it would appear to be just another alpine day at the Tour. Digging a little deeper we can see that there are more kilometers of climbing and more vertical elevation gain than any other stage of the Tour this year. The final 80km of the stage will be either up or down. There will be nowhere to hide and the best tactic of the day will be to be the strongest climber. Throw in the fact that the summit finish also boasts the longest ascent of the Tour and this should be an epic stage.

Alpe-dHuez-1024x892
Le Aple d’Huez. What more needs to be said? Stage 20 is short at just 110km but what it lacks in length is more than made up for by reputation. Huge crowds will greet the riders as they make the famed left hand bend out of le Bourg-d’Oisans and onto the 21 switchbacks that make up the climb to Le Aple d’Huez. There is no doubt that pressure and attacks will come from every direction. A non-GC rider trying to etch his name on one of the plaques of stage winners that line the climb, Quintana making one last gasp effort to reel the Yellow Jersey back or a rider trying to improve their place in the GC. Tour after Tour this climb never disappoints.

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-20-route-map

And finally the roll into Paris. Again a short ride at 109km, the race, as usual, will only heat up once the riders hit the cobbles of Champs-Élysées. Expect a bunch sprint. Expect a fourth stage win for The Gorilla, although Degenkolb, Cavendish, Kristoff, Coquard and a few select others will all be there to have their say in the final result.

Lance in France

Cover: Lance Armstrong
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Lance Armstrong was back in the saddle on the roads of the 2015 Tour de France this week, riding with the Le Tour One Day Ahead team to raise money to find a cure for leukemia.

Geoff-Thomas-Le-Tour-One-Day-Ahead
Geoff Thomas, Le Tour One Day Ahead Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The group, organized by leukemia survivor, Geoff Thomas, is a team of amateur cyclists that are riding the entire Tour de France course one day ahead of the actual race. They are riding with a support team, mechanics, and rolling road closures – and for two days this past week, Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong joined the group for stages 13 and stage 14 on a route winding through the Midi-Pyrénées from Muret to Rodez on the first day, and then on to Mende on day two.

No musette bags here

Lance-Armstrong-Le-Tour-One-Day-Ahead
Lance Armstrong, Le Tour One Day Ahead Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While the riders are tackling the same territory as the Tour de France 2015 cyclists, and in the same conditions, which for stage 14 meant temperatures reaching 40° Celsius (104° Fahrenheit), lunch wasn’t something pulled out the back of their jersey.

Lance-Armstrong-Le-Tour-One-Day-Ahead-6
Lance Armstrong, Le Tour One Day Ahead Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

On the Rodez to Mende stage, the group stopped for a leisurely lunch in a beautiful village overlooking the Tarn River. Armstrong was relaxed as he chatted with the team during their early afternoon break.

Before mounting their bikes again for the remaining 67 km to be ridden in the scorching heat, Armstrong patiently posed for countless photos, answered a few questions from the journalists in attendance, then climbed on his bike, set his computer, and pedaled off to Mende.

Lance-Armstrong-Le-Tour-One-Day-Ahead-7
Lance Armstrong, Le Tour One Day Ahead Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Should Lance have ridden with the group?

Obviously, Lance joining the group on their ride was to increase awareness for the project that has a mission to raise £1m for Cure Leukaemia.

Brian-Cookson-Tour-de-France-2015-team-presentations
Brian Cookson, Tour de France 2015, Grand Départ Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Armstrong’s participation ignited much commentary from the cycling community and beyond. UCI president, Brian Cookson, stated in March:

I’m sure that Geoff Thomas means well, but frankly, I think that’s completely inappropriate and disrespectful to the Tour, disrespectful to the current riders and disrespectful to the UCI and the anti-doping community.”

Before the Tour began, journalists were already attempting to add the Armstrong angle to their coverage. At the pre-race press conference in Utrecht, a journalist asked Chris Froome about Armstrong’s presence. Froome responded eloquently, stating that he supported Geoff Thomas’ goal to raise funds to fight a disease that had caused his mother’s death and then turned the conversation back to Team Sky’s participation in the race.

Chris-Froome-Team-Sky
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 pre-race press conference Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Even some of the teams have criticized Armstrong’s participation on social media.

So, should Lance have ridden with the group or was he, as Cookson stated, “disrespectful to the Tour?”

Should Lance be in France?

For those criticizing the promotional nature of Armstrong’s attendance – nearly every charity event has celebrities in attendance and markets their event heavily to raise funds.

Armstrong was Geoff Thomas’ inspiration to ride the 2005 Tour de France route ahead of the professionals. Thomas, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2003, conquered the TDF route soon after going into remission in 2005 and the achievement won Thomas an award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards and launched his efforts of raising funds for leukemia charities.

For Armstrong – sure it was a bit of a jab at the Tour and professional cycling. But, was participating in the charity ride wrong?

Although banned from professional cycling, or from even participating in a swim event or triathlon, Armstrong obviously has the right to hop on a bike and take a ride through the Pyrénées if he desires. Armstrong just happened to draw some media attention along the way with the timing of this one, bringing notice to a ride for charity that otherwise would not have had the New York Times and CNN report on it.

Ivan Basso’s departure from the Tour with testicular cancer just days before Armstong’s arrival also underscored just another reminder of the reason for the ride – to fight a horrible disease.

Ivan-Basso-Tour-de-France-2015
Ivan Basso, Tinkoff Saxo, Tour de France 2015, Stage 2 Utrecht Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Was Lance a distraction to the Tour?

The Tour de France is an entourage of thousands of support personnel, journalists and cyclists moving throughout France for 21 days. It takes a lot to divert attention from the race.

For me personally, the daily press conference questioning of Chris Froome about doping suspicions actually brings back more memories of the late Lance days than a 43-year-old riding a bike on the roads of France with a few members of the media popping in for a photo or quote.

So, was Lance a distraction to the Tour? Armstrong’s choice of riding the transitional stages made it fairly easy to cover both. We managed to grab a few shots as the group road through Millau, stopped off at their lunch up the road, and then still got back to Rodez for the finish of stage 13.

As we drove into the Tour finish the next day in Mende, my thoughts were of Lance and the One Day Ahead group arriving the day before. Far from the throngs of fans on the Champs Élysées that awaited Armstrong at the end of his former France rides, this ride ended in a field on a hill above Mende with a team of Brits and little attention.

Lance-Armstrong-Le-Tour-One-Day-Ahead-4
Lance Armstrong, Le Tour One Day Ahead Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Isn’t it time we moved on?

In 1989, Pete Rose was banned from baseball for life for betting on the game. He’s now making commercials that poke fun at his exclusion from baseball’s Hall of Fame.

In a couple of decades, will Armstrong be on TV hawking a product while making jokes about not being able to run a tri?

Doubtful.

Armstrong’s personality made, and continues to make, him a lightning rod. By his own account, he can be rude and has bullied people. He has an obvious distrust and dislike for the press, perhaps justifiably, and appears on edge when cameras are nearby and microphones are stuck in his face.

When we lived in Aspen from 2011-2013, Lance lived a few blocks away. There, we saw a different Armstrong – a relaxed guy that would run by on his daily jog with a casual wave to say hello.

Two different sides of the same guy in different circumstances – I would imagine there are even more.

Armstrong rode in an era of doping and he mastered the craft. It was a time, as he has stated, that doping was just like “air in the tires and water in the bottles.”

What he did was against the rules, was wrong, and was also done by nearly every cyclist riding in the peloton at the time.

Lance-Armstrong-Le-Tour-One-Day-Ahead-5
Lance Armstrong, Le Tour One Day Ahead Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

He was also an exceptional cyclist and, in America, ignited a passion for the sport for millions of people who otherwise may never have become cycling fans. And, many of those people are also now riding bikes every day – a healthy activity – and for that, we must also remember the good that came out of the time.

It’s a rarity to meet anyone whose life hasn’t been touched by cancer. My father died of cancer in February. The One Day Ahead riders – and Lance for two days – are undertaking a huge task with the goal of raising money to fight a terrible disease. I prefer to say, bravo for their efforts, and just leave it at that. It’s time to move on.

If you would like to donate to Le Tour One Day Ahead, do so by visiting Geoff Thomas’ fundraising page.

Froome heads into 2nd rest day with 3 min 10 second lead; Ruben Plaza picks up Tour de France 2015 Stage 16

Article by Todd Hofert


The stage to Gap today represented the final transition stage of the Tour. Gap lies on the fringes of the Alps at 745m (2,445 ft) above sea level while the stage started at 157m (515 ft) above sea level, another day made up of a long uphill drag from start to finish. This drag included two climbs and an intermediate sprint point.

Three whole minutes into the race a break would form and again Peter Sagan would make sure he was in it. For the third day in a row, he came out to defend his Green Jersey out on the roads. The break was made up of: Andriy Grivko (Astana), Christophe Riblon (AG2R), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Simon Geschke, Marco Haller (Katusha), Bob Jungels (Trek), Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida), Ruben Plaza Molina (Lampre-Merida), Daniel Navarro (Cofidis), Pierrick Fedrigo (Bretagne-Seche-Environnement), Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka)

Part of the original move, another group of 16 was caught between the break and the peloton.

35km into the stage the break had established a six-minute gap on the peloton and a minute over the chase of 16 although the gap between the two escape groups was coming down ever so slightly. Some riders would retreat back to the relative peace of the peloton, the pace high out front as the lead group remained intent on fending off their chasers

As planned Peter Sagan took the win and the 20 points at the intermediate sprint in Die. He was uncontested and his win extended his Green Jersey lead over Andre Greipel to 64 points. Halfway through the stage, the gap between the 12 man break and the peloton had swelled to 9:21 with the second group of 12 still hovering around a minute behind the leaders. The two groups finally merged a few kilometers up the road and the gap to the now 23 riders strong breakaway was now over ten minutes. The riders remaining out front were: Grivko (Astana), Riblon (AG2R), Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo), De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Geschke (Giant Alplecin), Haller (Katusha), Irizar and Jungels (Trek), Oliveira and Plaza Molina (Lampre), Navarro (Cofidis), Erviti (Movistar), Hansen (Lotto Soudal), Golas and Trentin (Etixx), Voeckler (Europcar), Mate (Cofidis), Pantano (Cannondale Garmin), Fedrigo and Perichon (Bretagne Séché), Boasson Hagen, Pauwels and Teklehaimanot (MTN)

The race would proceed status quo up the first of two categorized climbs on the road to Gap. The results over the category 2 Col de Cabre:1. Serge Pauwels (MTN) 5 points2. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) 3 points, Edvald Boasson-Hagen (MTN) 2 points, and Marco Haller (Katusha) 1 point. The peloton appeared to fall victim to a series of punctures as they came across the summit. It would later be clarified that molten pavement under the riders tires was making it feel as though they had flatted, the oppressive heat continued to wear down the race.

Edvald Boasson Hagen, MTN Qhubeka, Tour de France 2015
Edvald Boasson Hagen, MTN Qhubeka, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With 50km to go Edvald Boasson-Hagen (MTN) would have a go off the front of the break. He was joined by Marco Haller (Katusha) and Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida). Peter Sagan, like a boss, drilled the move back almost single-handedly. For now it appeared that the cooperation within this lead group had begun to fracture. The gap to the peloton now over fifteen minutes.

The next to go was Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal). He managed a gap of 31 seconds before Marco Haller (Katusha) made an attempt to bridge up to him. He made the catch and the two working together began to open their advantage. As it approached a minute, the gap to the peloton had grown to nearly eighteen minutes. The Col de Manse (1,268 m) an 8.9 kilometre-long climb at 5.6%, coming into sight.

Adam Hansen, Lotto Soudal, Tour de France 2015
Adam Hansen, Lotto Soudal, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

It’s our goal to win stages, so we wanted to try that again today. It took a while before I and ten others joined the first group. We had to chase for about 100 kilometres because the speed was so high. Luckily some did an extra effort to close the gap. It was the intention to bring Thomas De Gendt into the finale in the best possible position. I had to respond to attacks, but because we were with so many I decided to attack to reduce the group and hoped Thomas could move along. Unfortunately only one other rider joined me, so it was hard to cover more than 40 kilometres. Because of my shoulder injury it’s hard to sprint, so if I would have gone to the finish with some others I wouldn’t have won anyway.”
Adam Hansen, Lotto Soudal

The pace on the ascent of the Col de Manse was lifted and the effects were evident. The gap to Hansen and Haller coming down rapidly. Peter Sagan clinging to the group leading the chase. They made the catch with six km left on the climb and 18km to the finish. An acceleration by Ruben Plaza Molina (Lampre-Merida) blew Hansen and Haller straight out the back leaving Sagan to lead a group of four in pursuit of Plaza.

Most of the break regrouped behind the move of Plaza as his lead grew to a minute, the chasers all intent to sit on Peter Sagan. Sagan, however, attacked the descent putting his bike handling skills on display. Only able to cut the deficit in half however he was once again relegated to a second place finish behind Ruben Plaza who took his first Tour de France stage win. Peter Sagan came across the line beating a fist to his chest signifying his insurmountable grip on his fourth overall Tour Green Jersey, only misfortune able to take it from him now. Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) COL rounded out the day’s podium.

Vincenzo Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015
Vincenzo Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Meanwhile, the fireworks in the chasing peloton had been lit. Vincenzo Nibali, another master of the descent, was off the front of the pack. In a moment of high drama, Geraint Thomas (Sky) was forced off the road on the descent, hitting a pole head first and plummeting over a barrier into a deep ditch, his well-being uncertain. Soon after Nibali led the chasing GC contenders home to the finish Thomas could be seen fighting his way seemingly unscathed back to the group to protect his sixth place in GC. So much testimony to the grit and determination required to complete this great race.

For now, take a deep breath. Tomorrow is a rest day. Then come the Alps and four days of high drama before the race reaches its conclusion in Paris on Sunday.

Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015
Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

If you don’t try, you gain nothing. I tried and funnily I always have second places. But it’s okay, I’m very happy with my effort. I might have some bad luck because everybody is looking at me in the race and follows me, when I try. Today, nobody wanted to work on the final climb but I tried to keep the race open. Well, I have a good lead in the points classification but Tour de France is crazy and everyday something can happen and I have to make it to Paris.

I’m very happy with the support I have here at the Tour, it really motivates me. For example, a whole bus from Slovakia is here and follows me at the race to cheer me on – it’s really nice. Today, I also had many great friends in the group that all wanted to stay with me so it was very difficult to do something but I did my best, also for the supporters.”
Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo

Tour de France 2015 Stage 16 Top 10

  1. Ruben Plaza (ESP) #156
    LAMPRE – MERIDA 04h 30′ 10″
  2. Peter Sagan (SVK) #47
    TINKOFF-SAX 04h 30 ’40’ ‘ + :30
  3. Jarlinson Pantano (COL) #188
    IAM CYCLING 04h 30′ 46″ + :36
  4. Simon Geschke (GER) #86
    TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN 04h 30′ 50″ + :40
  5. Bob Jungels (LUX) #147
    TREK FACTORY RACING 04h 30′ 50″ + :40
  6. Christophe Riblon (FRA) #17
    AG2R La Mondiale 04h 30′ 50″ + :40
  7. Daniel Teklehaimanot (ERI) #219
    MTN-Qhubeka 04h 31′ 03″ + :53
  8. Thomas De Gendt (BEL) #73
    LOTTO-SOUDAL 04h 31′ 10″ + 1:00
  9. Luis Angel Mate (ESP) #174
    COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 04h 31′ 32″+ 1:22
  10. Thomas Voeckler (FRA) #129
    TEAM EUROPCAR 04h 31′ 32″+ 1:22
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

I did hear on the radio that G (Geraint Thomas) had been caught in a crash behind. At that point I was just trying to say to the guys around me ‘listen there’s been a crash let’s just try and keep the race steady for now.’ But obviously only a few kilometres before the finish the guys wanted to go hard.

It’s really unfortunate for us to lose Pete Kennaugh at this point. He’s a big part of the team but he’s had a tough couple of days with illness. I hope he recovers soon. It means we’re going to have to share the work between the eight riders but the guys are strong and I’ve got a lot of confidence in them.

Beyond that I think it’s been a pretty good day for us. We saw the other GC teams trying today. Tinkoff-Saxo took the race on at the foot of the last climb. We saw attacks over the top and Vincenzo Nibali going for it. I think that’s definitely what we can expect these next two days in the Alps. The race certainly isn’t over yet. We’re going to have try and keep control of the race and hope we can keep the lead until Paris.”
Chris Froome, Team Sky

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 16

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 64h 47 ’16”
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 64h 50′ 26″+3:10
  3. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) #61
    BMC RACING TEAM 64h 50′ 48” + 3:32
  4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 64h 51′ 18” + 4:02
  5. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 64h 51 ’39” + 4:23
  6. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    TEAM SKY 64h 52′ 48” + 5:32
  7. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 60h 64h 53′ 39” + 6:23
  8. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 64h 55′ 05” + 7:49
  9. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 64h 56′ 09″ + 8:53
  10. Warren Barguil (FRA) #82
    TEAM GIANT-Alpecin 64h 58′ 19″ + 11:03

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 16

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar


Stage 16
Date: 20 July, 2015
Start:  Bourg-de-Peage
Finish: Gap
Distance: 201 km