The 2018 Tour de France turned east with a soporific stage, so missing in motion that it might have been welcomed by insomniacs. The 231km trawl, the longest of the race, by way of the Mayenne and Sarthe to Chartres, was enlivened solely by the peloton rushing into the cathedral metropolis for an inevitable dash end, received by the Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto NL-Jumbo) from Fernando Gaviria (Fast-Step) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). Greg van Avermaet stays within the yellow jersey.
However there have been lastly stirrings of previous glories from Mark Cavendish, who was in competition till the ultimate 100m of the dash. “I was following quite good wheels, but it was choppy. There were a few ‘renegades’ about,” the Dimension Information rider mentioned. “I used to be choosing wheels and appeared to be place. Once I kicked my energy was fairly good nevertheless it wasn’t sufficient. As soon as Fast-Step and Bora go, I can’t match that velocity. I had a little bit coming along with Alexander Kristoff – it would’ve been my fault – and it simply stopped me useless.
“I just keep trying, our backs are against the wall all the time here. It’s not going to be easy to win here but we keep trying. Also, if those cycling journalists talked about some really choppy riders rather than me, trying to get clicks, then we’d see who they really are.”
On a stage so lifeless that the Fast-Step group’s Twitter feed was diminished to waxing lyrically about the grandeur of Chartres cathedral and noting the importance of Asterix to French standard tradition, there was little to write dwelling about.
Bernard Hinault went on the assault, even in retirement, at defending champion, Chris Froome, over his salbutamol case. “The other day I was with a youth cycling coach and before races parents have been giving Ventolin to children who aren’t sick,” the Frenchman mentioned. “Folks copy what the celebrities do.
“I wish Froome all the best as he’s up against a lot of people who don’t want him there. Mentally it must be tough to have all those people booing.”
“Water off a duck’s back,” Froome mentioned on the end when instructed of the Frenchman’s newest feedback. “I certainly don’t hold any resentment. I’m not fazed by it at all. Over the years we’ve always come up against one thing or another.”
There was additional fallout too from Tom Dumoulin’s time penalty, imposed after Thursday’s finish to Mûr-de-Bretagne, when Froome’s rival slipstreamed his group automotive after struggling a damaged wheel 5 kilometres from the end.
“I’m fine with the penalty but they have to impose it for everyone if they do the same thing as me,” the 2017 Giro d’Italia champion mentioned. Privately Dumoulin’s Sunweb group really feel that his largest mistake was being caught on digital camera, whereas others utilizing comparable drafting ways away from the cameras went unnoticed.
Geraint Thomas in the meantime performed down ideas that his function inside Group Sky had modified after he eased away from defending champion Chris Froome on Thursday’s hill climb end.
“Not really,” he responded. “My role is just getting through the cobbles as best as possible, attacking it for sure, and getting into the Alps. I’ll have to get through the Alps and see how I am, see how Froome is and go from there. A hell of a lot can happen between now and the end of all that.”
Sunday’s key stage over the cobbled roads of the “Hell of the North”, used within the spring traditional Paris-Roubaix, is now looming on the horizon, and most groups are specializing in the sporting and logistical calls for of racing on roads which might be certain to create drama.
Thomas, who received the Junior Paris-Roubaix as a teen, is aware of the ruptured pavé effectively. “They’re correct cobbles and there may be potential to be unfortunate and puncture on the incorrect time, which does really feel a bit random. However it’s the identical for everybody.
“The whole day is going to be full gas. The first two or three [sectors of cobbles] are spaced apart, but then they come thick and fast. It’ll just be about being in the front all day really. Your team-mates can help you a bit but a lot of the time you’ll find yourself on your own and need to do it yourself.”
Froome agreed that the stage would have all of the drama of a mini Paris-Roubaix. “It’s going to be brutal,” he mentioned. “There’s no two ways about it. Everyone knows that, everyone’s waiting for that.”