In just three stages of the Tour de France we’ve already seen crashes, chaos, an American in polka dots, and Peter Sagan dancing on his pedal (singular). As you can probably guess, our collective cups are overflowing with takes and opinions. So let’s roundtable!
Rain, crashes, and chaos: How do we rate Dusseldorf’s opening time trial?
Andrew Hood @Eurohoody: As far as drama goes, right up there. Most opening stages are little more than parades. This one packed huge GC implications. Sky is firmly in the driver’s seat, and it will take an armed car-jacking to take away the yellow jersey.
Spencer Powlison @spino_powerlegs: Terrible. What fun is a short TT if the riders can’t go all-out? Some riders were creeping around the corners, others were crashing terribly. It was rainy mayhem.
Caley Fretz @caleyfretz: The bratwurst was excellent but there was a severe lack of yellow bunting.
Fred Dreier @freddreier: Rainy, slipper time trials are a necessary evil in pro cycling. Like Andy said, they shake up the GC and create drama. But for heaven’s sake, put some padding on those metal barriers! Couldn’t ASO have stacked a pile of decorative throw pillows or yoga mats or hay bales in some of those corners? Imagine if there was an inflatable bumper-bowling pad on that bad left hander—Valverde might still be in the race.
How does the loss of Alejandro Valverde impact Nairo Quintana and Team Movistar’s GC ambitions?
Andy: It actually probably helps Quintana’s chances, because Valverde was the huge smokey of this Tour. The route was ideal for Valverde. On the other hand, it only puts more pressure on Quintana. The team was built around having Valverde to help him deep in the mountains.
Spencer: On one hand, it totally defuses Movistar’s one-two punch that it might have used to knock Team Sky and Chris Froome off balance. On the other, now we know, without any doubt, that Quintana is Movistar’s GC leader.
Caley: It’s a major loss, but not a fatal one. The team is now pointing at Carlos Betancur as Quintana’s big-mountain helper. A few months ago, that would have been a sign of a Nairopocalypse, but Carlos is lean again and was absolutely flying at the Hammer Series. He’s one of the biggest raw talents in the peloton and if he’s once again serious about pro cycling, he should be there when it really matters.
Fred: Huge blow. I saw Valverde as the true team leader for this year’s Tour de France, given the course construction. Plus, there will be no chance for a Movistar shake ‘n bake on stage 13.
What’s your favorite “Phinneyism” from Taylor’s post-stage two interview?
Andy: “People of Earth; I feel so much love today. Thank you for cheering for me and sending me your positivity !! I love you back !” – via Twitter
Spencer: I liked how he said a violin solo in the stage roll-out inspired his epic breakaway. Now we know what he’ll have in the Beats headphones before the next TT!
Caley: “I got a little bit distracted by the music at the second stop, when we were doing the neutral, there was one violin player who was, like, killing it.”
Fred: “It felt like a dream to be honest. I’ve been reading a lot of Murakami which is why I think it felt like a dream.” Makes total sense to me.
Richie Porte, Dan Martin, and Alberto Contador were all throwing punches in the stage 3 finale. Is this foolish match burning, or tactical racing?
Andy: Seemed like match-burning for Porte, but it put everyone on notice that he’s strong. Maybe it was to help set up Van Avermaet. Martin was clearly going for the win, and Sky played it cool to let the stage-hunters do the work to pull back Porte.
Spencer: It is smart for them to stay out of trouble on that technical run-in. It is not smart, however, for BMC to put Porte on the front to work for Greg Van Avermaet. Come on guys, I thought it was all-in for Porte to win yellow? Surely someone else could have pulled through? Or maybe this was just his opener for Wednesday’s race up Planche des Belles Filles.
Caley: Seconds matter. They had to go for it today, just in case.
Fred: I say that once you’re out of trouble in stage like that, sit in the pack and let Sagan and Michael Matthews do their thing. It seemed like wasted effort.
Peter Sagan pulled out of his pedal and still won the stage 3 sprint. What mechanical calamity could he suffer and STILL win?
Andy: Sagan could get his hair caught in his chain and still win even if all his locks got yanked out. It grows back, right?
Spencer: Maybe he breaks a handlebar and rides no-hands for the final 150 meters? Or, he could sprint home with a flat tire — it certainly didn’t slow him down that much on the Paris-Roubaix cobblestones.
Caley: He’s the wheelie king, right? I won’t be truly impressed until he crosses the line without a front wheel.
Fred: So long as there are no hooded sweatshirts anywhere, Sagan seems capable of anything. His bike could spontaneously combust and he’d still beat GVA and Bling.