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Tour de France Rest Day Roundtable!

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Your loyal roundtable regulars sit down to debate the last fortnight's racing. Oh, and introducing a special guest: addict.

Le Tour de France 2016 - Stage Sixteen Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

CONOR: It's the second rest day of the Tour de France, and we're here for a roundtable. Okay, to start with, my question is: There have been good stages and bad stages, but which would you say have lived up to or been better than their intended purpose. Stage 11 certainly sticks out, but are there any others?

ADDICT: Stage 8 has got to be there right? With the GC group cresting together, it looked like a dud stage. And then...

CONOR: Yeah, that was quite a move. I also enjoyed how it reallly shook out who were the best guys in the Pyrenees. You could see who was following the moves, even if nothing came of them.

WILL: The downhill Froome pedalling of stage 8 was fascinating.

WILL: Chris Froome running up Ventoux. (Will drops the mic and leaves)

ADDICT: Looking like Bambi 5 minutes after being born...

CONOR: Stage 2 is another one, with the break excitement and sprint at the end, with the Contador stuff as well.

WILL: WAKE UP JENS

JENS: Montpellier (was it Montpellier) with the Sagan/Froome unlikeliest attack ever. Thats the kind of stuff that makes Tours memorable to me.

CONOR: Yeah, eleven and twelve will be the memorable ones. I'm still trying to get my head around that.

ADDICT: Unlikely - but near totally predictable in the moment. With Sagan / Tinkoff clearly aiming to jump, and Froome 3.0 sitting on the front rank

WILL: So basically we are saying Froome is the most exciting thing about this Tour de France? Frankly, even the French press have been impressed.

ADDICT: 12 isn't going to be forgotten for years. General wtf-ness, combined with excellent visuals. And of course, we are also forgetting Yates' baptism by flamme rouge. I mean, how many guys win their first white jersey by having a glorified bouncy castle falling on their head?

WILL: The Grand Colombier Jura stage, was dull racing, but seemed to be a great tourist video for the region. Beautiful route.

CONOR: Speaking of Froome and Sagan, they vied in my head for the rider I most disliked before this Tour de France, but they've rather changed my mind. Froome has been by far the most exciting thing, with Sagan in second. Have your views on either rider changed?

ADDICT: Confess I have always been a Froome fan (British, I know, can't help it). But Sagz - who I used to actively dislike as a show pony with dubious common sense, has totally turned me around as all out racer with just a stupid depth and range of talent.

CONOR: You've described my view on Sagan exactly.

JENS: Sagan is Vino with a likeable personality and a sense of humor.

ADDICT: THIS (and also, hopefully, lacking the drugs).

JENS: Froome surprises me that he was willing to move out of the safe Sky pattern. Either it's because he has great form and is comfy trying new stuff or he has been really worried about the whole "Froome fades in the third week thing"

ADDICT: I get the feeling that Froome is just enjoying himself.

WILL: I am so impressed with both that I am growing hair again and bulking down my arms.

JENS: It's surprising how positive people have been to both Froome and Sagan since they are essentially killing the yellow and green competitions and people generally tend to get cranky when that happens. It says something about how they have done it.

ADDICT:Yeah. I own up to that on Sagz. I've been full of the "Green Jersey is the competition for the best Sagan". But when he is riding like this, it is tough to object. Though, personally, I am seriously disappointed by his TT placing...

Le Tour de France 2016 - Stage Eleven Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

CONOR: But do we expect Sky to totally kill the race for the rest of the Tour, a la Sunday?

ADDICT: They will try. And if the other teams just sit there, they will succeed. Basically, Movistar have to chuck the kitchen sink (and Valverde) at trying to shake their grip loose. Solo attacks don't look like they will do it

CONOR: Yeah, Movistar played into Sky's hands on Sunday. Valverde needs to sacrifice his GC hopes to draw out Froome.

JENS: Personally yes. Since Nairo clearly is sub-par. Movi may have had plans but unless this is the sandbag of all sandbags Nairo isn't suddenly finding Froome-cracking form.

ADDICT: Don't think it is a sandbag... but Movi probably have to take a view which of their two guys is in better form, assume that Froome will have his week 3 fade, and operate on that assumption.

CONOR: I would think it is a sandbag, but he's three minutes down, and couldn't even stick with Yates on Ventoux. He's nowhere.

ADDICT: Nairo underperforming is the under the radar surprise of all of this. Who saw this coming?

CHRIS: Hi guys, are you defaming my hero Nairo Quintana? If so, I'm leaving again.

WILL: Bye

CONOR: I didn't think he'd be able to match Froome, but this is below even my expectations, and I was pessimistic.

CHRIS: OK, I've grown thicker skin in the last few days...I'm surprised but he was sub-par in the Pyrenees last year and great later. Not sure when he flips the switch on, but it had better be Wednesday, or else. In the historical sense, 2.48 isn't much of a deficit.

CONOR: The thing about Froome though, is that he's burned hot early on, and then faded. There was no burning too hot here, so we either have to assume that he's also below par, or he won't fade as much, right?

ADDICT: 2.48 isn't huge... but goodness Sky look like they have the ability to control. And we have no idea about who has the advantage in the MTT. If it is Froome, game over.

JENS: Yeah, I'm not worried about the time gap either. There's 3 min to be found. I just don't see Zombie-Nairo rising from the dead.

CHRIS: I dunno Jens, those Izagirre boys have some delicious looking brains

JENS: Movi should have brought Betancur. There's a man with tasty brains if I ever saw one.

Le Tour de France 2016 - Stage Twelve Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

WILL: As far as riders go, this is super disappointing Tour for French riders. Pinot out, Rolland mediocre, Coppel being Coppel, Bardet/Barguil not yet ready. Someone needs to win a stage.

ADDICT: Rolland is the biggest disappointment, IMHO. What the heck has happened to Slipstream?

CONOR: Froome is the guy for the MTT. Isn't he?

ADDICT: Well, I don't know anything about MTTs - there just arent that many of them. Is it pure w/kg, or are TTing skills helpful? If the latter, definitely Froome.

CONOR: I think they're helpful, and especially helpful here. Pacing the effort will be difficult, and consequently important.

ADDICT: That's what I am guessing. But it is a really unusual test (it isn't the usual ITT of "sit on your threshold, and suffer...)

WILL: MTT course is all over the map. Flat, very steep, steady climb, steep again, downhill. etc

ADDICT: I would say we are going to see big time gaps - looks v difficult to manage the effort, and plenty of opportunity to blow oneself sky high

CONOR: Yes. Someone's going to blow up badly.

CHRIS: OK, here's the plan. Barguil goes a bit easy today and wins the MTT, saving France's dignity for another year.

WILL: Vive la France et Vive Barguil

ADDICT: France clearly needs a good moment. I would go for that. Seriously, vive la France.

CONOR: So long as it's the only mountain time trial this week, I'll be happy whoever wins.

WILL: May I remind people that the next stage goes past UCI headquarters. It's like the Tour de Romandie! And hot tip: there are three Col de la Forclaz coming up. The Z is silent and the A is almost silent. So Forc-le with very little "le"

ADDICT: I'm looking forward to hearing what P and P do to that. Thank goodness for Millar and Boulting

CHRIS: Cue Americans talking about the Cols de la Forclazes.

ADDICT: Though, boss, I don't like to point it out, but everyone is going easy today, so Barguil may need a different plan...

CHRIS: Oy, vacation brain...

CONOR: Why are you people all on holiday?

CHRIS: It's our duty to overrun Europe for two months every year. We chose July and August.

CONOR: Speaking of being overrun, can we talk hypothetically about Contador?

ADDICT: In what Contadorian sense?

CHRIS: I'm game

CONOR: I didn't think he'd do anything whatsoever here, but he'd surely be second now? I mean, if he had an okay time-trial, this so far would have been a good Tour for the guy, right?

CHRIS: He'd still be trapped under a moto on Mont Ventoux.

ADDICT: I have no idea what his level is now. Have I forgotten, but I don't think he has raced Froome or Q straight up evens since they emerged? Is he (a) still very talented and threatening, just hit with the bad luck hammer, (b) aging quite fast (c) an ex-doper who doesn't have the pop once he went straight? I have literally no idea...

CONOR: All three. That's how I see it.

CHRIS: He can certainly get around a tricky course, which this one turned into last week, so he'd be hanging around, but I don't think he'd hold off Mollema in the end.

ADDICT: Despite the doping bust, which surely is the tip of that particular iceberg, I find Contador hard to dislike, because boy the man RACES.

CHRIS: Yeah, he's always been an attacker.

ADDICT: Mollema. What the hey?

CHRIS: Dutch, doesn't mind wind, hasn't been tested too hard yet.

CONOR: Mollema's no better than 2013.

CHRIS: How can you compare a person to a year? My baseball team won in 2013

WILL: Jens is snoring like it's 1999

CHRIS: Heh heh.

CONOR: No Contador, Kreuziger hasn't been the same since, Quintana's below par, and Purito's 1000 years old. But Mollema's at the same level.

JENS: I dunno? Can't see 2013 Bauke being the only one able to bridge to Froome like that.

ADDICT: Conor, you confused me so much i reverted to CQ rankings. You aren't far off (I would say he is closer to Froome than 2013). But I had totally forgotten him. He's blown his Zubeldia this year, that's for certain

Le Tour de France 2016 - Stage Twelve Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

CHRIS: Well there's all to play for left after Froome, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Porte put the wood to most of these guys on the MTT and take a podium place. But Bauke's been good so far.

ADDICT: I dunno about Porte. He blew himself up in the ITT (or got done by the winds). That has got to hit his confidence.

CONOR: Porte's somehow managed to be four minutes down while being in shape to challenge for the win. I can only applaud,

ADDICT: Classic Porte. And we haven't had the inevitable and tragic jour sans yet.

CONOR: I was thinking that was the time-trial, but it wasn't such a dramatic blow as we're accustomed to.

ADDICT: You could be right Conor. Or the man with the hammer could be just around the corner.

CHRIS: Who's the biggest, bestest star of this Tour from the non-GC file?

ADDICT: Sagan first, Cav second (for pure improbability), the rest aren't in the picture (or even the movie)

CHRIS: Dumoulin says hi

ADDICT: Doh - you're right about Doom

CHRIS: Dumoulin is one of those guys I can't say enough about. Sagan has been a bigger star, but that's par for the course. If Doom isn't a genyouwine megastar I'll eat Conor's hat.

CONOR: Jerome Coppel, but only because I wanted to get there before Will.

ADDICT: I am dead impressed by him. But I think this talk of him threatening at some stage to win the Tour is...

CHRIS: Yeah, he isn't about to change his body enough to win a grand tour, at least not in the conventional sense. Maybe when Amstel buys the Giro they'll bypass the Dolomites.

No rider has ever won a summit finish and a TT in the same Tour and failed to finish on the podium.

Tom Dumoulin is about to@nedboulting

— Cillian Kelly (@irishpeloton) July 18, 2016

ADDICT: That's quite neat. Though the summit wasn't particularly extreme

CONOR: Will you indulge me, and talk about Dan Martin? He was so good in the Pyrenees, but now seems like he'll barely hold on to ninth. This seems like his limit, a ten day race at the front.

CHRIS: Seems like he could maybe challenge for a Vuelta one year. The Tour is too much to expect

CONOR: Yeah, but who the hell targets the Vuelta? He wouldn't be allowed to sit with the cool kids anymore.

ADDICT: Nobody targets the Vuelta. It's literally the last man standing

CONOR: There's thirty guys who could win the Vuelta if they rode a programme towards it.

ADDICT:: Sean Kelly would like a word...Well, one at least

CONOR: It's "calculation."

ADDICT: Can we ask him to do the complete greatest hits, and add Bonifications? Ideally, for turd place

CHRIS: Yes!

ADDICT: Where did Dan lose time? In the TT, which was expected. And in the carnage on Ventoux? The GC is still so close that some of the top 10 won are there could easily crater out of it. Dan could still find himself promoted...?

CONOR: Yeah, but he wasn't looking too good on Sunday. He was aggressive at the front of the peloton in the Pyrenees, but conserving at the back here. Maybe he'll leapfrog Van Garderen, even Yates or Valverde if they have a catastrophe (And not one that looks like it's coming), but seventh or eighth is the maximum.

ADDICT: I think TJVG is cooked (along with any pretensions he has to top level GC capability). If Movi have both their riders in the top 10, they are literally not trying. Yates is young so could turn into a pumpkin at any time (though I am hoping not). And Porte is Porte. So plenty of opportunity if he can hang tough

CONOR: Hitting Quintana AND Tejay? Chris is really wishing he hadn't turned up now.

CHRIS: It's OK, I'm drinking.

ADDICT: That's good, so am I. And - judging by the silence - so was Jens.

CONOR: Will...Okay, I'll do it: WAKE UP JENS

WILL: Jens snores in Swedish!

CHRIS: ZZZZZZZ... emma....

CONOR: VAKNA UPP JENS

CHRIS: We can keep going. It's what Jens would have wanted.

WILL: Another rider we'll be talking about on Thursday is the Badger himself. The Côte de Domancy climb in the Megève Time Trial was officially named Route Bernard Hinault last month. (it's where he won his 1980 world championship.

WILL: You don't think the door is open for Porte? (top notch french humour)

ADDICT: If it has a trap in front of it, then definitely.

CHRIS: Bien sur Guillaume!

CONOR: By the way, the Tour de Pologne was weird. Wellens was the only guy who could ride through the rain, and won by four minutes. I tell you this because he netted me a pile of points.

CHRIS: Why Edvald Boasson Hagen isn't there for me, I dunno.

ADDICT: I was hoping he would be at the front today...

CONOR: My computer is about to do a Jens and snore, with no prospect of a charger, so I'd like to wrap this up pronto unless anyone has something to bring up.

ADDICT: I guess we should say Chapeau Adam Yates. And cross our fingers.

CHRIS: VENGA NAIRO! Ain't over til it's over!!!

WILL: 4 big mountain stages to go. Fun!

CONOR: Yes. Fun indeed. Adieu.

WILL: We prefer au revoir

ADDICT: toodle pip

WILL: ciao