Tour de France 2020

Tour notebook: SkyBots, melty tarmac, fast climbs

How sticky is that hot tarmac? Nibali confirms that he's not trying to win the Tour, and Froome looks confident with Sky squad.

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

SkyBots engaged
Team Sky’s Chris Froome was relaxed after riding safely inside the black and blue “Fortress Froome” in Wednesday’s tricky stage. “It was a good day for us. We stayed up front and we stayed out of trouble. We took it on from the start. We never had any intention of bringing back that break or going for the stage. It was more about keeping GC intact and staying out of trouble. I wasn’t really hoping to get time on my main rivals, given it was a tricky finish, it wasn’t a massive GC day. I was hoping not to lose time to my main rivals. I am pretty happy it how it turned out. I was happy to have support right to the end, and it showed the strength of the team.”

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Tricky roads
The slightly soft, melty tarmac found in the Massif Central makes the fast descents here even trickier. “Half the time you’re glued to the ground, and your feel like you’re the only one that’s glued, and nobody else is glued, and half the time you’re just sliding around,” said Cannondale – Drapac’s Alex Howes after the finish.

Giro-Tour double safe for another year
Marco Pantani’s Giro-Tour double of 1998 remains safe for another year. Giro winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) sat up with 30km to go, quickly deflating secret hopes in Italy that the Shark would take a bite of this Tour. “Nothing strange happened today. I have said from the beginning I am not here for the GC.”

Welcome to the bigs
After popping for back-to-back top 20s (17th in stage 3, 13th in stage 4), Lawson Craddock (Cannondale) was impressed when he saw what a full-speed onslaught of the mountains is like in the Tour de France, posting this on Twitter:

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Coming up

Thursday’s stage: Arpajon-sur-Cère to Montauban, 190.5km with a handful of lower-category climbs. It should be a sprinter’s day. The run to the finish is likely too fast and flat for a break.

Weather update: Continued sun, and low winds. It’s about to get hot.