Pinot crushes a couple of late gels and takes to the start ramp. He bows his head for a moment, as his name is read out to his home crowds. The announcer has them chanting his name now. This is, as he said, his little moment of happiness on this Tour de France.
Almost time for Pinot
Départ de Thibaut dans 10 minutes ⏳ pic.twitter.com/UZJjvaD6SmSeptember 19, 2020
Jungels is more than a minute down on Cavagna at the first checkpoint after 14.5km.
Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe) is off now and we’re starting to get some big names out there. The German has won a stage in the Alps and was second on the Puy Mary stage, so he can climb, but he’s also a former junior world time trial champion. He’s had a very active Tour, so how much has he got left?
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) gets underway now. In last year’s form, he’d be one of the big favourites for today, but this isn’t the Alaphilippe of 2019, even if he’s won a stage and worn yellow. He’s thinking about the World Championships next week (next week!) and has said he doesn’t want to finish the Tour exhausted, like last year. That hasn’t stopped him getting in pretty much every breakaway.
Interviewed Roglič in October last year, a few weeks after the Tour route had been announced. All that Roglič had really noted of the route then, and all he’d say of it, was that today’s TT stage was one he could win. https://t.co/GR9IyHKFBvSeptember 19, 2020
58:35 for David de la Cruz (UAE Team Emirates). That puts the Spaniard into second place as it stands.
Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is off now, another rider who has the abilities for this course, although he hasn’t looked quite at his best at this Tour.
A bike with 1kg more in the 5.9km climb Planche des Belles Filles increases the climb time of 12 sec with the same power output. The trad off have to be well studied in accordance with the rider. So there may be different strategies in teams…September 19, 2020
De Gendt is also well over a minute down at the first checkpoint.
It doesn’t look like Schachmann will be challenging today. He’s 19th so far at the first checkpoint, 1:18 down on Cavagna’s benchmark.
Alessandro De Marchi (CCC Team) has the second fastest time at the finish, with 01:00:01 – that’s just over two minutes down on Cavagna.
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) now. He was second in the Tour time trial in Pau last year, if I remember correctly. A top rouleur on his day, and also someone who can climb – he’s won stages on Mont Ventoux and the Stelvio.
Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) rolls down the ramp, and he could be up there in an hour or so. He’s put in many a good time trial and is a strong climber.
Soren Kragh Andersen (Subweb) is underway. He’s a good time triallist who’s also pretty versatile and should go well. He’ll be on cloud nine, after collecting a second stage win yesterday. Both were solos after canny, well-timed attacks. Sunweb, who also won a stage with Marc Hirschi, have had a brilliant Tour – and after so many questions over their selection…
TT’s don’t always make for great drama but this one was always going to make for some great shots.
And we can hear from the rider in the hotseat now.
“OK I hold on to the best time but I was among the first starters. I believe the favourites will beat me by 45 seconds to a minute. I dealt well with my efforts all along the course but I’m 77kg. It’s heavy. At the end, I wasn’t on my favourite terrain. However, I remained quite composed but compared to Roglic, I’ll lose a lot up the hill. I didn’t change bike because I’m used to riding on my TT bike. Changing bike, I would have lost 30 to 40 seconds.”
Not much action at the top of the leaderboard. No one is getting anywhere near Cavagna’s times at the moment.
Over in the Tour of Luxembourg, there was a lorry on the road. Yes, really. That race already had its safety incidents on the opening day, resulting in a rider protest. Ridiculous that something like this has happened again. Details in the link below.
Asgreen drags himself to thee line now. He might have been expected to climb better than Cavagna but he looks a little tired and finishes 2:31 down on his teammate.
Cavagna comes to the top now, and he’s climbed well. He’s the fist rider under an hour, with 57:54.
“It’s going to be a big moment for me – a big moment in my career,” Pinot was quoted as saying in L’Equipe this morning. “Very few riders have the chance to ride a time trial like that on their home roads. I know I’ll have goosebumps the whole way. It will be a pleasure – my little bit of happiness from this Tour.”
The word ‘Pinot’ is chalked across the tarmac tens – if not hundreds – of times at the top of the Planche des Belles Filles. This is home turf for Thibaut Pinot, and this time trial, when the route was unveiled last October, was widely seen as the Frenchman’s date with destiny. How far this has veered from the script. Pinot’s challenge effectively ended on the opening day, even if his injuries didn’t cause him to lose time until the first weekend. He has battled on, almost anonymously, choosing not to leave the race and heal up for future objectives. Today was a big factor in doing so. The stage starts a stone’s throw from his old school, and the route passes a stone’s throw from his parents’ house in Mélisey after 9km. An emotional day ahead for him, you sense.
Cavagna and Asgreen have both just been through the second checkpoint (30.3km). Cavagna has the fastest time, with 40:01, and Asgreen is second fastest, but a full 55 seconds slower. Both are now on the Planche.
Bennett stops the clock on 1:05:55 – that’s 16 seconds slower than Ewan. Both will be well within the time limit, and that’s job done.
Chevalier knocks a few minutes out of the sprinters with 01:01:57. Who will be the first rider to break the hour barrier?
Ewan grinds himself up the final ramps now and stops the clock on 01:05:39. It’s been a big old effort this week for the Australian sprinter, with the Champs Elysées literally the only possible reward. He must be up for it, because he’s doing the Giro d’Italia as well a couple of weeks after the Tour, and some might have considered dropping from the Tour after the second week.
Roger Kluge is not a man made for 20% gradients, but the German lead-out man drags himself up the final ramps of the Planche to set the first finishing time. 1 hour, 4 minutes, 25 seconds.
We mentioned Cavagna and Asgreeen might set some of the stronger early times, and the former, in the French national champion’s skinsuit, has just breezed through the first checkpoint 46 seconds up on Politt’s previous benchmark, with 16:57. Asgreen follows along to post the second fastest time, with 17:14.
Want to know all about Mikel Landa’s pulley wheels? Of course you do
We have two intermediate checkpoints on today’s course. The first comes in Le Raddon after a flat opening 14.5km. The second comes right at the foot of the Planche des Belles Filles, after 30.3km. Nils Politt (Israel Start-Up Nation) has the fastest time at the first so far, with 17:44, while Maxime Chevalier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) is fastest at the second, with 43:19.
Significant crowds out there on the climb. It has felt odd, at times, that the Tour has been going ahead in the middle of this pandemic, especially at a time where the situation in France has worsened so much. But the final tests were done on Monday and there’s no doubt this race is going all the way now.
Bike change for Ewan at the bottom of the Planche des Belles Filles. He gets a push from his mechanic to get him going again. That’s allowed, but only for five seconds.
Tony Martin has just set off. The four-time time trial world champion won’t be in the hunt for the victory today but will be able to provide intel and feedback for his teammate Roglic.
While the sprinters are out on course, why not have a read of the latest in Procycling magazine’s daily analysis pieces?
The first three starters, all from Lotto Soudal, are all on the Col de Chevestraye, which tops out after 24.5km. It doesn’t look like much on the profile in the shadow of the Planche des Belles Filles, but it’s a significant uphill effort.
Ewan and Bennett are both out there, but thinking of tomorrow. They’ve established themselves as the top two sprinters of this Tour, with two wins for Ewan and one plus the green jersey for Bennett. They’ll be going toe-to-toe on the Champs Elysées tomorrow evening, and it’s a tough one to call. Bennett has been going much better in the Alps, while Ewan has finished at the back each day, which leads you to believe he’s the stronger of the two at the moment. Then again, he has expended energy battling for green at the intermediates and in yesterday’s finale, so Ewan might just be the fresher of the two, especially since he’s done nothing more than he’s had to just to finish in the past few days. He won on the final day last year, so there are no question marks over his endurance.
Looking at the earlier starters, the names that stand out are the QuickStep duo of
Rémi Cavagna (13:43:30) and Kasper Asgreen (13:45:00) – especially the latter. They could give us the early benchmark. There are some decent rouleurs and some decent climbers but this a very specific time trial, and it’s those who can do both, and those who have something at stake, who will be strongest. That means the GC riders later on.
A lot of sprinters and lead-out men among the early starters. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is about to get underway in his green skinsuit, after pretty much wrapping up the points classification yesterday.
A relaxed start from Kluge, who has simply been battling to make time limits in the Alps this week. He has often ridden behind even the gruppetto, as the Lotto riders look to get sprinter Caleb Ewan through to Paris, where he won last year.
Kluge has rolled down the ramp and the penultimate stage of the 2020 Tour de France is underway
Anyway, if you want an in-depth look at today’s stage, from the tech to the route to the GC complexion, here’s Barry Ryan’s preview.
One interesting thing to look out for today will be bike changes. The first 30km are best ridden on an aerodynamic time trial bike, but many will prefer a standard road bike for the climb, which is lighter and easier to handle uphill, especially when out of the saddle. Mid-race bike changes are allowed and widely expected, with the very start of the climb the logical place to do so. Stopping to change bikes obviously takes time, so teams will have to carefully calculate how much time they can reasonably expect to save by riding the climb on a normal bike. As we’ve seen in the past, these bike changes are often far from smooth.
Here’s the course. As we’ve seen in the Tour over the past decade, the Planche des Belles Filles is a steep, nasty climb in the Vosges. It’s not so long, at 5.9km, but the average gradient is 8.5%, with numerous ramps in the double digits and that stinging 20% pitch up to the finish line. This is not, however, a climber’s TT, given the 30km or so of flat or rolling roads before we reach the climb. It suits someone who can do both – ie Roglic, who is the heavy favourite for the stage victory.
The first rider down the ramp will be Roger Kluge (Lotto Soudal) at 13:00 local time (so in around 15 minutes). They’re setting off in reverse order of the GC, at intervals of 90 seconds for the bottom half of the field, then two minutes for the top half. Roglic will be the last rider to start at 17:14. Click here for the full list of start times.
The battle for the yellow jersey isn’t exactly over. Strange things can happen at the end of the Tour, and Pogacar actually beat Roglic earlier this year to win the Slovenian national time trial title, so the yellow jersey will still be feeling the pressure. However, such has been the smoothness of Roglic’s Tour so far, and the momentum he regained on the Col de la Loze, losing yellow would be a huge upset.
Beyond those two, it looks like a battle for the final spot on the podium. Miguel Angel López (Astana) has a 99-second lead over Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), and that one could be tight.
Finally, there’s some intrigue in terms of the mountains classification, with points (10-8-6-4-2-1) on offer for the fastest riders on the 5.9km Planche des Belles Filles section. Richard Carapaz (Ineos) is in the polka-dot jersey with 74 points but his lead is threatened by Pogacar (72) and Roglic (67). Roglic and Pogacar won’t have this luxury, but expect the Ecuadorian to take it easy on the first 30km before going full gas on the climb.
Hello there and welcome along to our live coverage of the Tour de France. It’s stage 20, the penultimate day, and we have an individual time trial that finishes on La Planche des Belles Filles. This is where the general classification will be decided ahead of the traditional procession to Paris on Sunday. Race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) has a 57-second lead over Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and, such is his time trialling prowess, is expected to all-but seal the title today.