Tour de France 2020

Tour notebook: French nicknames, Africa rising

Cavendish says African cycling is poised for greatness, Van Avermaet plans to keep yellow, and French nicknames are bad, just plain bad.

Our Tour de France reporters already bring you the biggest stories and best analysis every day. But what of the notes they scrawl in the margins, those little bits of gossip and narrative that are as much a part of the Tour as Chris Froome and the color yellow, but which rarely see the light of day? You’ll find those here.

Notes from the margins

French nicknames not so macho
Cycling has had some great nicknames. Remember Abdoujaparov as the Tashkent Terror? Pantani’s Pirate? Or Contador’s Pistolero? Today’s French riders clearly need some help in this department. Warren Barguil? Wa-Wa. Alexis Gougeard? Gou-Gou. Jean-Christophe Péraud? Ji-Ci. Thomas Voeckler? Le Chou-Chou. Perhaps Pou-Pou — Raymond Poulidor — ruined it for everyone.

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Question of time for Africa’s rise
Now that he’s on Dimension Data, Mark Cavendish has a front-row seat to development of African cycling: “The physical talent coming through is incredible. I think within 10 years, we’ll see our first big East African cycling star in the Tour. It’s for a lack of talent, but more to do with the culture of cycling. We’ll be looking at the continent of Africa being the dominant force in cycling within the next 10 years.”

Still 198
All 198 riders finished stage 6. If they all start tomorrow, it will be a new Tour record.

Getting closer
Dan McLay (Fortuneo – Vital Concept) is getting closer and closer to a sprint stage victory. He was the rider who threaded the needle so spectacularly at the GP Denain. It seems only a matter of time now.

Van Avermaet to fight to end
Greg Van Avermaet doesn’t expect to carry the yellow jersey out of the Pyrénées, but he’s hoping to defend it for at least one day. Friday’s one-climb stage, with a downhill finale, could see him defend for the day: “It will be hard to keep it. I will really have to fight. Five minutes is a lot, but when the climbers go, it’s not that much.”

Coming up

Friday’s stage: L’Isle-Jourdan to Lac de Payolle, 162.5km to the edge of the Pyrenees. It’s mostly flat until the final climb, the cat 1 Col d’Aspin. There’s a descent into the finish.

Weather update: It’s getting hot in here. Temperatures rose well above 80˚F on Thursday, and will be in the same range on Friday.