Tour de France 2020

Tour notebook: Thermal motor checks, Yates stitches

The heat is on to check for motor cheating, Valverde and Froome hash it out, and Yates gets more stitches.

Our Tour de France reporters already bring you the biggest stories and best analyses 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

Spotting hot motors
The Tour made use of a thermal imagery camera on Friday in an attempt to spot motorized cheating. The surprise tests occurred on the Col d’Aspin. A man on the back of a motorbike rode behind both the breakaway and GC group, thermal camera in hand.

“This test proved totally negative. There will be others, but we won’t reveal the time and place,” said Thierry Braillard, France’s Secretary of Sport.

The UCI’s tablet scanner has already checked hundreds of bikes. No motors have been found.

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Froome, Valverde hash it out
Did you notice Valverde and Froome hashing it out, coming into the finish line? You can bet it wasn’t about their vacation plans. Sky and Movistar have been going at each other hard over the past couple of days, and it’s likely they were trying to clear the air over who should work to control the breakaways. For the second day in a row, a big break pulled clear, this time with some dangerous names. “We were talking about things concerning us in the stage,” Valverde told Spanish radio at the finish line. “Nothing more.” When asked if Froome was speaking in “murciano” (Valverde’s regional dialect), he said that Froome speaks perfect Spanish. Venga!

Stitches
Adam Yates received four stitches after he was taken out by the flamme rouge inflatable archway. He landed on his chin at Classica San Sebastian, too, and got eight stitches then.

Bring a patch kit
The Yates incident was not the first inflatable arch issue in the bike racing’s long history.

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Poor Pinot
“I am not 100 percent,” said FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot after being dropped in stage 7. “It’s not a question of preparation. I wanted to arrive at peak form for Mont Ventoux, because the Tour truly begins there, but we are not machines that you can program to hit peak form when you would like. When I arrived at the base of the col, I didn’t know if I was going to be good or bad. My teammates helped me perfectly, but then I realized I wasn’t feeling great.”

Coming up

Saturday’s stage: Pau to Bangères-de-Luchon, 184km. Four major climbs, starting with the Tourmalet and finishing with a descent down to Bagnères-de-Luchon.

Weather update: Highs near 90˚F in Pau. Saturday will be mostly sunny, with a slight chance of a shower in the morning.