Le Tour 2019 - Stage 15

Smashing it

Four passes, and another summit finish today with over 4700 m of altitude gain, meant that just like yesterday, today’s stage was going to be a serious GC stage. Thibaut Pinot was absolutely smashing it today, and the way he kept accelerating on the summit climb of Prat d'Albis was just astounding. This was the first time in a long time we’d seen Sky/Ineos being attacked.

Yesterday, Pinot was at 3:12 on the GC. Today, after his repeated accelerations, and dropping all the main GC riders (only Landa could stay with him, but he’d attacked prior to Pinot), he was now at 1:50 behind Alaphilippe. What’s worth noting, is that he lost 1:40 on the ‘crosswind’ stage. If it hadn’t been for that he’d only be 10-seconds behind on GC. It’s also worth noting that no one had gifted him any of these gaps (in the same way that someone is far down the GC is). The GC riders simply couldn’t keep up with him on the climbs.

We also saw Alaphilippe lose some time on the summit finish. He now has a lead of 1:35 on Thomas. With 3 mountain stages to go, of which all 3 are very hard and 2 summit finishes the questions that remain are: Can Alaphilippe win? Can Pinot make up sufficient time to win? Will Ineos come good? I’d like to see a French rider win, so I’m cheering for Alaphilippe and Pinot — the last French rider to win was Bernard Hinault in 1985. How Alaphilippe recovers over the next few days and whether his team can rally around him, will be critical. Pinot looks like he’s on the rampage…

It’s great to see the Tour riders climbing perfectly. I can’t emphasise enough that this is combination of a high power output and a low body mass (giving a high power to mass ratio around 6+ W/kg on the passes). While not everyone will be able to get that high (no matter how hard they train), we can all maximise our climbing ability. If you include some 5-min hill intervals ridden at almost flat out and complete at least several of them you’ll be able to increase your power output at MAP (VO2max). Making small changes to your diet can (without even really dieting) can make significant differences as well. Do you need to eat chocolate every day? Do you need a beer every day?

Richard Stern