14 July 2015

Froome DESTROYS Competition!

It was a beautifully clear day for cycling during the first of three days in the Pyrenees.  Temperatures were around 27 C (81 F) and the pace was fast at the start.  The peloton was averaging approximately 44 kph (27 mph) after about half the distance was covered.  Was that too fast?  I ask because of all the riders who cracked on the final, brutal climb.  Before they reached the climb, cyclists enjoyed some amazing scenery (click on the image for a larger view).
I grabbed that screen capture with about 45 km (28 mi) left in the stage.  Riders could definitely see what was lurking in their future!  Helicopters shot amazing vistas of the gloriously green Pyrenees (click on the image for a larger view).
France was breathtaking to behold on Bastille Day!

André Greipel took third place in the sprint (there were two breakaway riders at that point), and has the green jersey (click on the image for a larger view).
Today's stage came down to the final 15.3 km (9.51 mi) and the monster climb up Col de la Pierre St Martin.  I grabbed the screen capture below as the peloton passed the indication that the REAL mountain stage had begun (click on the image below for a larger view).
The climb destroyed many of the cyclists.  All the sprinters were obviously eaten, but so were some famous mountain climbers.  Last year's winner, Vincenzo Nibali, cracked with about 11 km (6.8 mi) left.  Two-time winner Alberto Contador cracked with roughly 6.8 km (4.2 mi) left.  It was painful watching the cyclists huff and puff as they slowly made their way up the mountain.

Cyclists had even more pain as they learned just how far behind Chris Froome they now sit.  Team Sky was brilliant today.  Richie Porte of Australia did yeoman's work up the mountain as he helped Froome.  Porte demonstrated his mettle as he came in second and was the only cyclist within a minute of Froome.  Does Froome look happy (click on the image for a larger view)?
You'd be happy, too, if you were halfway through the Tour de France with a commanding 02' 52" lead over second place!  Below is how we compared to Froome.
  • Stage 10:  4h 22' 07" (actual), 4h 24' 38" (prediction), 02' 31" slow (0.96% error)
We are inside 1% again!  The fast pace at the start had me a little worried, but the mountain tamed the peloton.  Froome's average speed is below.
  • Stage 10:  10.62 m/s (38.23 kph or 23.75 mph)
Day two in the Pyrenees begins in the commune of Pau.  The 188-km (117-mi) stage winds around southeast of Pau.  A category-4 and a couple of category-3 climbs will warm riders up for the category-1 climb to the 1490-m (4888 ft) peak of Col d'Aspin.  After they zoom down from there, they face the hors catégorie climb to the 2115-m (1.314-mi) peak of Col du Tourmalet.  An exhilarating 31-km (19-mi) descent will have cyclists flying before they reach the category-3 climb that finishes the stage in the ski resort commune of Cauterets.  Below is our prediction.
  • Stage 11:  4h 58' 09" (prediction)
If the mountains eat up cyclists like today's final climb did, we could be too fast.  I want to see cyclists come in under five hours!

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