Take It From Carol: Tour de France 2019


And 3 weeks of suffering begins.....

Today will be a calm day on the bike with a breakaway and an exciting sprint finish as the fastest men position themselves early for the green jersey (a jersey OWNED by Peter Sagan —6 so far—more on each jersey and the races within the race later).  And a tiny Sagan tangent here: I think he wants yellow today...perfect stage for him). 

As always, I promise this is a “no spoiler” space as I typically don’t watch live or even the day of (kids, jobs, travel!) so please no comments that spoil it for me . 

Here is a bit of Tour 2019 101! 

The Grande Depart:  This year’s start begins in Belgium to honor one of its greatest heroes Eddy Merckx and the 50th anniversary of his first win.  

The tour’s total distance is 3,479.3km – or 2,162 miles.  The race is 3 weeks long with 21 stages and 2 rest days.  It is the most watched sporting event in the world (yep, I’m including the FIFA World Cup). 

The General Classification contenders, according to the people who place bets or make odds (not much of a gambler over here..) 

1. Geraint Thomas (Ineos, GB): 13/5

2. Egan Bernal (Ineos, Col): 3/1

3. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana, Den): 11/2

4. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott, GB): 13/1

5. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo, Aus): 16/1

6. Nairo Quintana (Movistar, Col): 93/5

7. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ, Fra): 20/1

8. Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma, Hol): 22/1

9. Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale, Fra): 25/1

10. Mikel Landa (Movistar, Spa): 25/1 

Geraint Thomas is defending his win last year.  All of France believes this is finally THEIR year with Romain Bardet in top form.  It will be fascinating (and a much better Tour) if Quintana finally lives up to all the hype that surrounds him, or perhaps the young Bernal becomes the hope of Colombia. And, can we all just cheer for Richie Porte—such a good guy and a guy hounded by SUCH BAD LUCK (please don’t blow your nose Richie!!!!).  

A bit of a stage overview:  

Director Christian Prudhomme describes this year’s route as “the highest Tour in history.”  It includes five mountain-top finishes along with a record number of 30 categorized climbs. The snooze fest of the first week has been re-imagined by the organizers.  Instead of everyone only watching to see costly crashes or tuning in the last seconds to see exciting bunch sprints after long, boring flat road days, we now have a team time trial (tomorrow, stage 2) and some early punchy climbs to jazz things up. 

And if that isn’t enough added potential drama......

The early days are filled with riders that are jittery and nervous. Their early stage objective is to keep their man off the pavement and to avoid devastating, costly mechanicals.  So what do the organizers plan?  Let’s add two cobbles climbs  (um, not later but yeah today, stage 1)? NOT that the organizers are hoping for “carnage” (insert sinister laugh here).

Stage 7 is the longest, 230 km.  

Stage 5 are the hills before the climbs and a potential stage to see if the GC starts racing (watch the breakaway and pray defensive riding gives way to real competition this year—in the spirit of Eddy “the Cannibal” Merckx). 

Stage 6 brings us to the defining La Planche des Belles Filles with her 24% grade gravel finish.  The first proper climbing stage... 

Let the suffering begin......