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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

Movistar took overall top team honors.

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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
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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

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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

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 route map

Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 profile

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 profile

Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 last km

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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.
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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.

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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

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 profile

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 climbs

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

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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.

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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.
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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

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 profile

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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
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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
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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.