25 July 2015

Pinot Tames Alpe d'Huez and Makes France Proud!

What an incredible finish to today's stage!  And what a great day for France!  Alexandre Geniez of France was the first to reach the summit of Col de la Croix de Fer (click on the image for a larger view).
Geniez had a great ride, but finished 25th today.  I love the scene below, which shows riders in the valley approaching Alpe d'Huez (click on the image for a larger view).
The climbers were preparing for their assault on the famous ascent.  Not long after beginning the climb, Vincenzo Nibali had a flat tire.  That was too bad, as it would have been fun watching him compete for the stage win; Nibali finished 15th today.  Frenchman Thibaut Pinot was the star on the climb, and won the stage by 18 seconds (click on the image for a larger view).
We did quite well today!  Below shows Pinot versus our prediction.
  • Stage 20:  3h 17' 21" (actual), 3h 15" 50" (prediction), 01' 31" fast (-0.77% error)
To be under 1% with an Alpe d'Huez finish makes us very happy!  But that happiness really doesn't compare to the joy I felt watching the best cyclists in the world compete on France's most famous climb.  Pinot's ride was inspiring, but I was probably more thrilled watching Nairo Quintana of Colombia.  That man can absolutely climb with the best of the best.  He did everything he could to overtake Chris Froome, and it was electrifying watching him tackle Alpe d'Huez with everything he had.  Quintana will take second this year, but at just 25 years old, he will be a rider to be reckoned with in future Tours de France.

Below is Pinot's average speed.
  • Stage 20:  9.332 m/s (33.60 kph or 20.88 mph)
In my wildest dreams I can't imagine riding today's stage at that speed.  Kudos to all those cyclists who could even finish such a challenging ride.

Chris Froome and his powerful Team Sky mates did what they had to do today to keep Froome in yellow.  Quintana offered a marvelous challenge, but Froome fought to 5th place today and kept his overall lead on Quintana to more than a minute.  We'll see Chris Froome win his second Tour de France tomorrow.

Tomorrow's 109.5-km (68.04-mi) flat stage begins in the commune of Sèvres, just southwest of Paris.  The mostly ceremonial final stage will take riders through many Parisian streets and end on the most famous of them all, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.  The final stage is always a challenge for modeling because the general classification leaders enjoy the final ride, while the sprinters will vie for the stage win once the streets of Paris are in view.  Below is our prediction.
  • Stage 21:  2h 35' 06" (prediction)
It's hard to believe the 102nd Tour de France comes to a close tomorrow.  It's been a fun ride!

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