“At grief so deep the tongue must wag in vain; the language of our sense and memory lacks the vocabulary of such pain.”
― Dante Alighieri
I will not proceed to discuss Dave Failsford’s idea of not bringing a grand tour champion along with the team . . . you know, just in case the two kids he brought cannot perform. I mean, Dave, you are up against a stout Jumbo Visma team and . . . nope, I will not discuss it. I also will not discuss the shock of everyone in the commentating world of Niro Quintana’s being distanced on major climbs . . . yet once again. I will not even discuss how incredible it was that Roglic can nose breath up a category one climb, dropping some of the best climbers in the world . . . must be the ski jumping background.
It is the brutal week three of the 2020 Tour de France. Starting tomorrow, these riders will slam straight into a stage that holds five categorized climbs; that is only a warm up to the following day. Stage 17 erupts with two HC climbs and on and on. Anyone can find the profiles online, but what does it say for the rest of the race? It has boiled down to only two contenders, and some have even said that Roglic has the race in his yellow jersey pocket. Not so fast, my friend. Week three is what separates the pretenders from the contenders.
After the second rest day, the body is consuming itself. Some riders’ body fat are dropping to three percent and lower. Glycogen stores are depleted. Muscles fibers are sore and having more and more of a difficult time recovering. Old and new Injuries mount. Dehydration hides behind dark curtains, ready to expose itself in the middle of a stage. Exhaustion causes lack of concentration for road furniture or the wheel in front of a rider. Inflammation causes tightness and suppresses recovery. Week three is what makes a grand tour a GRAND TOUR. So do any of the four GC riders under Roglic and Pogacar have a chance? Personally? No. Roglic looks way too comfortable and the others look to be surviving. Unless Roglic does something to hurt his own chances, by way of a crash or out-of-the-blue bonk.
Green is still in play. Bora has shown its muscle and flexed it hard on Stage 14. Bennett buckled and proved his lack of skill for going up. Now, there is nothing but mountains ahead . . . BUT (and its a big but) the sprint points are at the start of the stages, pushing Bora to get more points with stage wins . . . in the HIGH mountains. That does not bode well for Sagan. So what’s the plan? Bora must come out in Stage 16 and hit Bennett straight in the mouth with a hard push over the category four and into the sprint points. This could put Bennett’s legs into difficulty for rest of the stage and maybe for the week. If this is not done by Bora on Stage 16, the following two stages are much too steep and the run into the sprint points (on 17 and 18) should be easy for Bennett to grab. Admit it: Sagan just does not have his snap this year. That being said, the only other chance Sagan has is to win on the Champs-Ẻlysées. Yeah, way easier said than done.
Polka dots seem to frustrate me every year. How can a rider be in the climber’s jersey for days on end but ride in the grupetto on the major, mountain climbs? Cosnefroy is about to lose his jersey this week, unless he has been riding smarter than I am giving him credit. There are four riders who are within a breath of taking the jersey off of his back. In the long run, I think it will be Roglic in yellow and Pogacar in dots.