23 July 2015

Bardet Makes France Proud in the Alps!

Romain Bardet of France pushed my challenge from yesterday to the very edge.  The prediction I posted for today's stage was ambitious, and I admitted as much when I posted it.  I wanted to see a rider come in under five hours, and Bardet almost did it.

With temperatures around 32 C (90 F) at the base of the mountains and roughly 25 C (77 F) near the peaks, riders enjoyed a wonderful summer day in the saddle.  Alpine scenery was of course on full display.  The brutal climb up Col du Glandon separated the best from the very best, but all enjoyed views as good as it gets (click on the image for a larger view).
The screen capture I grabbed below shows the peloton with about 50 km (31 mi) left (click on the image for a larger view).
It is easy to see why that mountain is tough to climb on a bicycle!  Chris Froome got some help from a Team Sky mate on the way up (click on the image for a larger view).
I think that is Coca Cola!  It must have helped because Froome retains the yellow jersey with the same lead he began the day with.  The first cyclist to reach the peak of Col du Glandon was Romain Bardet (click on the image for a larger view).
Bardet is on the right and Winner Anacona (what a great name!) of Colombia is on the left.  Bardet would never relinquish the lead.  Look below as he makes France proud today (click on the image for a larger view).
As I noted above, Bardet wasn't able to sneak in under five hours.  Below is a comparison between his time and our prediction.
  • Stage 18:  5h 03' 40" (actual), 4h 50' 12" (prediction), 13' 28" fast (-4.43% error)
I was hoping for a special performance today, and that's what I saw!  Getting through today's grueling stage in just over five hours is quite an achievement.  There were cyclists finishing more than half an hour later after Bardet crossed the finish line.  I'm happy we're under 5% on such a difficult stage.  Below is Bardet's average speed.
  • Stage 18:  10.24 m/s (36.85 kph or 22.90 mph)
Tomorrow's Stage 19 is a deceptively short 138 km (85.7 mi), but a LOT of tough cycling will be shoved into those 138 km.  Picking up where today's stage finished in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, cyclists will have to contend with a category-1 climb right at the start.  After heading north, they will turn back toward the south where they'll face the hors catégorie climb to the 2067-m (1.284-mi) peak of Col de la Croix de Fer.  As if that's not enough, a category-2 climb will whet their cycling appetites before the category-1 climb to 1705 m (1.059 mi) elevation at the finish at La Toussuire.  Below is our prediction.
  • Stage 19:  4h 03' 33" (prediction)
I suspect we'll be a tad fast again, however, the best effort from the best cyclist in the world can certainly make that time.  I am not rooting for any particular cyclist, but I would love to see Chris Froome get challenged today so that racing will be fast and the action will be intense.  A great stage awaits us tomorrow!

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