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.

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.

Riding with the peloton

Riding with the peloton

Cover photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Ever wonder what it’s like to ride in one of the cars on the course of a pro cycling race?

The cycling photography aspect of Chasing Light Media provides opportunities to view pro cycling races from numerous vantage points, including within the peloton. One of the most frequent questions we get, is what riding with the peloton is like, so here’s a recap of a typical day…

A carefully choreographed caravan

Riding with the peloton - Tour of Utah
Riding with the peloton – Tour of Utah
Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

A pro cycling race is much more than some guys on bikes riding at high rates of speed on a given day.

The race route is carefully planned months in advance and requires the efforts of hundreds, if not thousands, of people to ensure the race is both safe for riders and enjoyable for fans. As each race day dawns, the roads are closed to the public, as a mix of motorcycles and cars travel amongst the 100+ bike riders, carefully weaving in and out of the cyclists to support them and provide race coverage for fans worldwide.

Who’s in those cars & on those motorcycles?

Riding with the peloton
Riding with the peloton
Photo: Kim Hull
© Chasing Light Media

A variety of people.

First, there are the organizers of the race. That includes race officials, marshalls and race operations personnel that ride throughout the race ensuring the riders are safe and the course is as secure as possible.

Next, communications. Race radio keeps everyone updated on the status throughout the race. Information continually flows over the radio with information on riders, locations and current conditions. An example of an update… “The lead group is 40 seconds off the front and includes 11 riders. The riders are 51 5 – 1, 91 9 – 1, 45 4 – 5…”

Riding with the peloton
Riding with the peloton – Tour of Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Team support cars. Each team has a couple of support cars carrying extra bikes and supplies to assist their riders on the course with flats, broken chains, etc.

VIPs. Let’s not forget that it takes money to support a race. VIPs pay up to a reported $10,000 to ride in a car during certain races.

Press. The motorcycle photographers roam in and out of the riders and along the route to get shots as the race progresses. We were in one of the media cars that carries the press during the race.

And, there are other vehicles, including medical support.

Riding with the peloton
Riding with the peloton – Tour of Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

So, what do you do in the car?

We start out ahead of the peloton.  Typically, a few miles out, we stop and wait along the side of the road for the riders to “catch up,” then, when they get close, we proceed out ahead of the group.

We ride along, listening for news on race radio, waiting for the breakaway. Just before the sprint, we were notified that we could fall into the gap (area between the breakaway and the peloton) after the sprint.

Our driver stops periodically along side of the road so we can get shots of the breakaway as they pass. We then start again, this time in between the break and the main group. As a chase forms, the process is repeated, then we fall in behind those riders.

The first climb

Riding with the peloton
Riding with the peloton – Tour of Utah
Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The route on this day of the final stage of the Tour of Utah was fairly simple – flat with two huge climbs.

On the first climb, the breakaway fractured with gaps forming between the riders as they made their way up the 2.15-miles with up to 22 percent grades. It was hot and the riders were suffering as we passed them on the climb.

After going over the top and the first King of the Mountain (KOM) point, we passed the feed zone, and then we flew down the winding descent, just ahead of the helicopter.

A race back to the finish line

Now ahead of the riders, with just the final pass waiting between us and the finish line, we race ahead to get to the finish line before the riders.

On this day, we arrived back in Park City just about the time the first of the riders went over the pass and began their descent into town. Jumping out of the car at the finish line, we took our places on the course with the other photographers and about 10 minutes later, the riders hit town and race to the finish line.

Tour of Utah 2013 Stage 6
Tour of Utah 2013 Stage 6, Francisco Mancebo, 5 Hour Energy by Kenda
Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Elephant Rock Cycling Festival

eRockin’ it at Elephant Rock

Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Elephant Rock Cycling Festival

What a great way to spend a Sunday in early June – with more than 7500 other cyclists, riding through the beautiful Colorado hills near Castle Rock at the Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival.

Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Cyclists of all ages and abilities unite for a great day in the saddle, followed by the Party at the Rock post-ride picnic and cycling expo.The Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival, which is one of the largest cycling events in Colorado.

Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

A course for everyone

  • With an 8-mile family course, 34-, 62- and 100-mile road rides, and a 25-mile off-road course, there’s something for everyone.
  • 8-mile family course. For beginners and families,  the Elephant Rock 8-mile family course includes interesting terrain and awesome views of the Rockies.
  • 25-mile off-road course. The Elephant Rock 25-mile fat tire course winds through hills, high plains and canyons around Castle Rock on a combination of dirt roads, paved roads and bike paths.
  • 34-mile road ride.  A challenging 1/3 century course, the Elephant Rock 34-mile road course has a total elevation gain of 2,147 ft and tours through rolling hills with views of Pikes Peak.
  • 62-mile road ride. The Elephant Rock Metric Century course traverses the high plains between Denver and Colorado Springs, with a total elevation gain of 3,336 ft.
  • 100-mile road course. The Elephant Rock Century course adds a challenging 38-mile loop through the Black Forest to the 62-mile course, for a total elevation gain of 5,944 ft.
Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Safety and support

Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
  • Riders must be 14 years of age or older for the 62- and 100-mile courses and tagalong bike trailers and burley style trailers are not permitted on the 100 & 62 mile courses.
  • Aid-stations are positioned every 10-18 miles with fresh fruit, snacks, water and porta-potties.
  • Sag wagons with water and road assistance roam the courses to help riders experiencing mechanical trouble or those who become too fatigued to finish. However, cyclists should be prepared to handle their own flats and minor repairs.
  • Elephant Rock is always one of the best “law enforcement-supported” rides thanks to the Colorado State Patrol, The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, the El Paso County Sheriffs Department, and the Castle Rock Police Department.
Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Party at the eRock

The post-ride Elephant Rock party includes a vendor Expo, lunch and prizes.

Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Team Zimbabwe

Team Zimbabwe
Team Zimbabwe
Photo: Kim Hul © Chasing Light Media

This year we joined Team Zimbabwe, riding with 53 others to help improve the lives of thousands of children in the Murewa region of Zimbabwe.

A portion of Team Zimbabwe riders’ registration fee and additional donations are contributed to the Zimbabwe Mission Partnership.

The Zimbabwe Mission Partnership assists in providing resources to deliver daily meals, clean water, clothing, medical care, education assistance and other much-needed support for nearly 1,000 orphans and the surrounding community.

Through the efforts of supporters, government school fees are being paid to allow them to attend school, and a medical clinic is providing care to children with various illnesses, including HIV.

A great organization helping those who need it most – and a great day of cycling!

Team Zimbabwe, Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Team Zimbabwe, Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media