TDF stage 3...

Nov 17, 2009
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There seems to be a lot of discussion of the "cobbled stage" going on throughout several threads... so I thought I'd just create one. I'm very curious about how teams might approach this stage.

It's a very flat stage. The cobbled sections are:

1. 85 km to go (350 meters)
2. 44 km to go (1200 meters)
3. 40 km to go (700 meters)
4. 27 km to go (2400 meters)
5. 24 km to go (2500 meters)
6. 18 km to go (3700 meters)
7. 10 km to go (2300 meters)

In the 19-20 km from section 4 to section 7, there are 10.9 km of cobbles. My guess is this would be the section a GC person who felt competent on the pave would make a move.

But how would such a rider do that? Are Wiggins and Armstrong good enough to actually attack on their own to force the pace? Or would they have to hope a cobbled team attacks and do their best to hold on? Can Saxo Bank use their cobbled riders to ride a furious tempo to burn others off... but not burn the Schlecks off? What kind of gap would a somewhat together group that was dropped be able to pull back in the last 7.7 km?
 
Jun 21, 2010
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I think the cobbles provide marketing flair without much potential for a meaningful selection. There won't be many tired legs by stage 3, and the rest of the day is flat. The teams will be on edge and fighting for position, but barring accidents, I predict an uneventful stage.
 
There will almost certainly be accidents and there will certainly be teams on the front trying to force a selection. The pace heading into the cobbles will be dramatic, and don't discount the possibility of wind aiding in the selection.

Look for Saxo and Radio Shack to try and split the field, hard. They will put at least 5-6 riders each on the front of the pack and try to blow it up. Both teams will see this as a potential chance to drop Contador. They need to try at least.
 
red_flanders said:
There will almost certainly be accidents and there will certainly be teams on the front trying to force a selection. The pace heading into the cobbles will be dramatic, and don't discount the possibility of wind aiding in the selection.

Look for Saxo and Radio Shack to try and split the field, hard. They will put at least 5-6 riders each on the front of the pack and try to blow it up. Both teams will see this as a potential chance to drop Contador. They need to try at least.
I can see a riders protest coming on.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I think we will see an explosion of the peloton, my biggest hope is that nobody gets hurt. That being said, I hope it rains.:D

Of course, if it rains, there WILL be a protest.
 
red_flanders said:
There will almost certainly be accidents and there will certainly be teams on the front trying to force a selection. The pace heading into the cobbles will be dramatic, and don't discount the possibility of wind aiding in the selection.

Look for Saxo and Radio Shack to try and split the field, hard. They will put at least 5-6 riders each on the front of the pack and try to blow it up. Both teams will see this as a potential chance to drop Contador. They need to try at least.
I can see Saxo putting up 4 or 5, but I don't think Radio Shack has 4 or 5 guys to offer (Rast and Murayev; maybe Popo). I still find it curious that given all of the attention given this stage and that so many teams will be attempting to use it get time on AC, folks still think Astana is going to sit back and be a willing participant in their own demise. I think they are going to be supremely focused that day.

Frankly I think there is a better chance of getting a gap on Stage 1 in the wind.
 
I think there will be several minutes gap between groups, with 2 or 3 large groups forming.

Yes, Retirement Shack and Saxo will attack, but not just them. It IS a Tour stage after all, and lots of riders want to win one. I think that all the cobbled specialists (Boonen, Ballan, Flecha, et al) will also help whomever is at the front, since it is in their interest to do so.

Groups will form, because you can't stuff 200+ riders into a 3-4 meter wide cobbled road and NOT have groups form. The accordian effect over the last 4 sections of cobbles will virtually guarantee gaps.

Finally, I doubt if the chasing groups will be able to gain much time back in the final 7k. The strongest riders will be in the lead group, how are the shrimpy lightweights that have been dropped supposed to gain time BACK? The wolves chase the sheep, not the other way 'round.

All prognostications guaranteed, or double your money back.
 
May 13, 2009
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We had a discussion about that during the Giro. I think we found out that the smartest would be to thin the field before it enters the cobbles. Riding very hard in the beginning and shed riders or split the peloton such that there's a smaller bunch entering the cobbles together (maybe 50 or so). That way you minimize the risk of crashes. Of course one would need a strong team to force this selection.

If the teams think 'flat stage' with a small escape and sprinters teams trying to pull it together toward the end, then it will be carnage, but in that case, I think nobody should complain.
 
Sep 22, 2009
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for sure it's going to be eventful - all the gc guys need to be at the front, that means the pace will be high! not a normal flat stage by any means!
 
BeachBum said:
I think there will be several minutes gap between groups, with 2 or 3 large groups forming.

Yes, Retirement Shack and Saxo will attack, but not just them. It IS a Tour stage after all, and lots of riders want to win one. I think that all the cobbled specialists (Boonen, Ballan, Flecha, et al) will also help whomever is at the front, since it is in their interest to do so.

Groups will form, because you can't stuff 200+ riders into a 3-4 meter wide cobbled road and NOT have groups form. The accordian effect over the last 4 sections of cobbles will virtually guarantee gaps.

Finally, I doubt if the chasing groups will be able to gain much time back in the final 7k. The strongest riders will be in the lead group, how are the shrimpy lightweights that have been dropped supposed to gain time BACK? The wolves chase the sheep, not the other way 'round.

All prognostications guaranteed, or double your money back.
Very good points (especially the passage in bold).
 
Aug 6, 2009
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BeachBum said:
I think there will be several minutes gap between groups, with 2 or 3 large groups forming.

Yes, Retirement Shack and Saxo will attack, but not just them. It IS a Tour stage after all, and lots of riders want to win one. I think that all the cobbled specialists (Boonen, Ballan, Flecha, et al) will also help whomever is at the front, since it is in their interest to do so.

Groups will form, because you can't stuff 200+ riders into a 3-4 meter wide cobbled road and NOT have groups form. The accordian effect over the last 4 sections of cobbles will virtually guarantee gaps.

Finally, I doubt if the chasing groups will be able to gain much time back in the final 7k. The strongest riders will be in the lead group, how are the shrimpy lightweights that have been dropped supposed to gain time BACK? The wolves chase the sheep, not the other way 'round.

All prognostications guaranteed, or double your money back.
Well one thing is wrong with you analysis IMO. A large potion of the wolves aren't wolves, they're sheepdogs. Breschel, Cancellara, Flecha, Ballan and other will only be driving the front group if their sheep is in it. otherwise they'll drive the later groups. I certainly hope that something will happen though. The race is going to be much more exciting if Contador looses a 3-5 minutes.
 
i bet nothing unusual at all will happen... as usual a break will go away, the favourites will leave it to the mountains, and that'll be it..

this is the tour... unusual stuff doesn't happen
 
May 5, 2009
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red_flanders said:
...there will certainly be teams on the front trying to force a selection....
yes, but which teams? honestly, most of the GC contenders are not experts and stars of the cobbels, so they will try to protect and limit possible damage. If Saxo blows up the peloton, unfortunately, the Schlecks will be rather victim of such strategy instead of beneficiaries.

Of course, crashes and accidents might make it very difficult, but otherwise, maybe a few classic big one's will get a free ride, will GC contenders will try to watch each other and get healthy through the stage. Spartacus said already a few months ago that his main job will be to guide the Schecks through the cobbels, so no way he will try to make the race difficult.

Which is a bit sad, as I'd prefer fireworks and GC action!! :D

But who knows, maybe I'm wrong (let's hope so - for a thrilling race)
 
Pharazon said:
i bet nothing unusual at all will happen... as usual a break will go away, the favourites will leave it to the mountains, and that'll be it..

this is the tour... unusual stuff doesn't happen
I have to agree. Last year they were saying the same. Then the peloton soft peddled for 15 stages.
 
Jun 21, 2010
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From the map, it looks like the opportunities to take time are limited to the last 4 cobble stages/last 40 km. Why? B/c the first 3 cobble areas are followed by signif distance with (presumably) wide road where you could regain time driven by rouleurs. GC contenders may treat the last 40 km with caution, and likely ride defensively. Some Classics specialists might get into an early break and go for the stage win, but most likely they will stand by if their captain needs help responding to circumstances/crashes. Looks like a lot to lose against <3 minutes to gain for the primary GC contenders to roll the dice here.

What if a team formed an 'accidental' roadblock associated with a crash? That's the only way I see for a >3 minute interval between GC contenders to open up.
 
GoGarmin said:
Does anyone have the star ratings for each of these sections of pave?
I think the hardest section is the last and it is rated 4 stars by L'Equipe. The others are 1-3 stars. You might want to venture over to Podium Cafe, where I think they have an article posted about this very stage.
 
Apr 26, 2010
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after all the hype generated by the announcement of the parcours i'm absolutely sure that NOTHING important (GC wise) will happen in this particular stage.
 
think the GC-men will probably roll safely across the line together, five or ten minutes behind the specialists trying for the stage. who'll win, do you think? who'll be there? cancellara, boonen, pozzato, hushovd, flecha, at least? not nearly the same amount of cobbles as in paris-roubaix, but enough to ensure no bunch sprint, thankfully.
 
Looking at the teams lineup, I only see two (4) teams with the men power & the experience to do some serious damage: Saxo, Quickstep, Cervelo & BMC.
the other ones appear equal in qualities to meet the cobbles, so I foresee agreements(payments) made with those teams to drive other team's GT riders through the rough sections. Saxo & the Shack have already made a pact to work together to put massive time gaps on AC-or at least try-but they could be selfish & just get themselves the prize.
 

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