Tour debates: Is the great Quintana back?

Which Frenchman should we bet on July 14?

Julien Chesnais

On Tuesday evening, I ventured to defend Thibaut Pinot’s chances for the polka dot shirt. These took the lead on the wing in the 11th stage, the Franccomtois had quickly fallen behind while Michael Storer and Valentin Madouas were able to perfectly accompany David Gaudu. The mountain classification now seems a little harder to find, it’s true. But as for his current form, I want to stick with the impression he left on Sunday, when he proved irresistible at Pas de Morgins. He had the sticks to win that day. Would he have lost them in three days?

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How successful Jumbo-Visma was in its “demolition” business in Pogacar

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Pinot believed in it: he revived his attack on the Pas de Morgins

Unlike the first big alpine stage on Wednesday, it will be much easier for him to integrate the getaway of the day as the 12th stage, starting from Briançon, will be launched directly on the slopes of Lautaret. There is no floor to start with. Directly from the climb. If he has a leg, he will be in front.

Advantageous circumstance: he has not had to resort to his reservations on Granon Road (32nd but 26 minutes away), unlike some of his potential rivals, such as Geschke, Barguil or Latour. And we know that one of the great strengths of Pinot is its ability to recover, to chain efforts overnight. The Alpe d’Huez will bring us excellent memories. It was here that he saved his 2015 Tour, with a solo victory that no one has forgotten. Winning here again, on July 14, is the kind of carrot that knows how to transcend it.

Seven years ago, Pinot triumphed in the Alpe d’Huez

Laurent Vergne

Having returned the problem in all directions, I want to, or rather I am sorry to answer … no one. In the face of howls and cries of indignation, I would like to point out that this is not a denial of the qualities of others, but rather a matter of context. For a Frenchman to win at the Alpe d’Huez in this national holiday, they will have to fit all the pieces of a more complex puzzle than it seems. But I’m afraid, for everyone, he’s missing a piece. Anyway never the same.

Romain Bardet (2nd overall) and David Gaudu (7th) have once again been magnificent at the Granon. So far they have done an impeccable Tour and are two serious candidates for the podium. It’s great in absolute terms, but it’s not the best news ahead of Thursday’s stage victory. They will have absolutely no room for maneuver. To win, there should be no getaway ahead, which is possible but not assured, and they should be able to let go of Vingegaard, Pogacar and the others. And no matter how strong the two best Frenchmen are, it seems complicated.

Let’s go a little further down the hierarchy. Valentin Madouas, 13th in the standings, also made a great first part of the Tour. But he has a specific role: to stand by David Gaudu. Depending on the circumstances of the race, of course, he might have to play his own card (in Rolland mode with Voeckler in 2011), but this is not the most likely scenario. I would have loved to bet on Warren Barguil, but “Wawa” gave so much on Wednesday during his largely lonely foray that it will be tricky.

As for Thibaut Pinot, where are his legs really? That said, if the wands are off (and that’s a big “yes”), I agree with Julien, it’s perhaps the least unlikely hypothesis. Not because he’s the best Frenchman, but because after falling 25 minutes on Wednesday, he might have been saved. And it generally doesn’t bother anyone …

Did Vingegaard do the hard part?

Julien Chesnais

Yes. Of course, you have to take some big tweezers ten days before the end, especially considering the impressive scenario of the 11th stage and the promise of a bitter revenge of Pogacar on Thursday on the road to Alpe d’Huez. It is a miracle that the Dane has gone from 39 ”behind the Slovenian to 2’22” ahead, with the yellow jersey in play, although this miracle was caused in large part by his own care and of your team.

The incredible arms race: Vingegaard, Roglic and Pogacar attack Galibier

It counts for more than two minutes throughout the competition, and is a mattress that, in principle, should take you gently to Paris. It is the strongest in the high mountains. And his training is the strongest of all. Like the Sky of the great era, the Jumbo-Visma is armed to the teeth to defend a yellow jersey that today looks like an impregnable citadel. Unless Pogacar returns?

If it is confirmed that his bad pass at the Granon was only a short-lived failure, the Slovenian will be able to find ground to Paris to make up for his delay here or there, with bonuses or small breaks to his advantage. to the stage finishes. Thus the leadership had been consolidated at the beginning of the Tour. And it is also in this way that he can put Vingegaard within reach of his rifle before a potentially decisive Rocamadour time. But the hardest part has been doing it for Vingegaard, I think. All you have to do is manage it. Which also does not seem an easy task, it must be said, given the caliber of his (only) and main rival.

Laurent Vergne

After the show of strength of the Dane, combined with the (big) blow of Tadej Pogacar, it is tempting to believe him. Without a doubt, Jonas Vingegaard has come a long way in seizing power and, even more, pushing his Slovenian rival to more than two minutes. Surely, only Pogacar can prevent him from adding his name to the list, in the same way that he was the only threat worthy of that name for the double headline.

Now, one of two things: o Pogacar is not recovering from the failure of the Granon and this is the harbinger of a deeper and lasting failure, where he is again himself. In the first case, this 2022 Tour is folded and the last ten days will no doubt be long. Then Vingegaard is able to do a Tour … to the Pogacar, accumulating the bouquets and widening the gaps as you go. But if the theory of the day without is the right one, the Jumbo leader will have to be kept on guard.

There is still a long way to go in Paris. In Alpe, Hautacam, even Mende, on a playing field that certainly suits him better than in Vingegaard, ‘Pogi’ can make up for part of his handicap, even with seconds here and there. , not to mention bonuses. It could (conditionally) get close enough before the last time trial to keep the suspense going until the end and, why not, do the Planche acrobatics again in 2020. All this obviously seems very hypothetical this Wednesday at evening. But a Pogacar at its best has yet to lose this Tour.

Is this the return of the great Quintana?

Julien Chesnais

It’s hard to say, but on the Tour, in any case, we haven’t seen him as attractive in a long time. Distance to the Galibier, “Kingtana” had the entrails and then the legs to complete an offensive launched at the foot of the final ascent. Without Vingegaard’s resounding return, victory was for him at Granon.

However, the Quintana of the great era would no doubt have held the wheel of the Dane. It wasn’t the case here, the Jumbo-Visma leader had crushed him and then spat at him in three pedal strokes. He is not really worthy of the best climber in the world he once was.

Basically, I think this stage was the one that the Colombian liked the most. The slope of the Granon was long and very strong, it was the most difficult to reach the top of this Volta, and we will never climb so long after, competing more than twenty kilometers at more than 2000m altitude this Thursday . Therefore, I am not convinced that we will see the leader of Arkea-Samsic again from here in Paris at such a party. Unless the big Quintana is really back.

Laurent Vergne

It all depends on what you mean by “the great Quintana.” If we refer to that of the first half of the 2010s, which polled the podiums of the Tour de France (2nd in 2012 and 2013, 3rd in 2015), it is certainly too optimistic or, at least, too premature. To do so, he will have to repeat over time, mountain stage after mountain stage, which he was able to produce on Wednesday.

On the other hand, it’s been a few years since we’ve seen him so strong at such a difficult stage. The Colombian was more accustomed to working as a striker, as a fighter, because he had already taken a shine in the general classification. On Wednesday he ran with the best and his last climb of the Granon, where he was the first to attack in the yellow jersey group to go chasing … his teammate Warren Barguil, it was a pleasure to see him.

We did not finish second at the top of the Granon on the pedal as he did in this 11th stage without being in excellent condition. But can it continue? Thursday? Then in the Pyrenees? To Paris? That is another question. Meanwhile, Quintana has once again been an aspirant to the podium (his last on a Grand Tour dates back to the Giro 2017 and 2015 to the Tour. After two last cross-editions like a ghost, it’s a lot.

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