crankpunk is on holiday

yes,  a real holiday, racing the Craft TransAlp. 7 days of hell. 586km and 19,200m of climbing.

5th day in and i am a mess of cuts, bruises, and a taint that ’tain’t no more.

hot damn, these hills are vicious. and beautiful.

full report to come soon. man, am i getting an education from these Euros…






Why the 2014 Tour de France has been so far, so good

this article originally appeared on The Roar


We are only 11 stages into the 2014 Tour de France and yet we have already been gifted a race for the ages.

It’s had thrills, spills, bellyaches and tears, Herculean efforts of leg-busting chutzpah, and buckets of va-va voom even without the presence of Va-Va Froome.

Some of it has been caused by accident – quite literally – but a good chunk of the intrigue and interest has come about due to very clever design.

The revival of the French riders, and one French team in particular, has kept the locals on the edge of their seats and ensured enthused crowds roadside daily. Lotto Belisol’s Tony Gallopin has been pivotal to all this, with one day in the yellow jersey and that irrepressible victory on Stage 11.

He must have read ‘How to become France’s new hero’ before the race. The recipe is simple. Get into yellow and win a stage in the Tour. The French have been so hungry for a ‘new Bernard Hinault’ that they’ve eaten just about all the pretenders who’ve come and gone since the Badger’s heyday.

Not that Gallopin is an Hinault. Only Hinault is Hinault, we all know that. However the way he won that stage sparked a national reminiscence of the golden days of French cycling – days, it has to be said, long since gone.

The effort he put in to try to stay in yellow on Bastille Day was beautifully captured by a shot from a moto that pulled alongside him as he struggled up the final climb. A string of saliva dangled from his gaping mouth, sweat slalomed down his face, and in that single moment, you could feel everything the Maillot Jaune means to these guys – especially the French.

It was beautiful. No other word for it.

Gallopin’s win followed Blel Kadri’s gallant solo effort to win Stage 8. The Ag2r rider also pulled on the king of the mountains jersey after his win, and though he lost it soon after, it provided another breath of fresh air for French cycling.

His team also captured the lead of the team competition, a rarity for a French squad. They are riding very well collectively, and though it’s early days yet they may have a shot of holding the lead if they ride well in the big hills.

The star team of the Tour have been Astana, but coming up close behind are Thomas Voeckler’s Europcar. The boys in forest green have been the surprise package of this Tour and are riding on the front every day. Exactly why they’ve been going so very hard hasn’t always been clear but, again, it’s making the French happy.

One reason so many teams have been up at the front when the race heats up – at times there have been four lines of teams lined out, all within a metre of each other – is that there is no patron (or boss) in the peloton these days.

In fact, there hasn’t really been a patron since a certain Texan ‘retired’, but the fact that both Chris Froome and Alberto Contador have left the race means that every man and his dog fancies a dig at the front.

The majority on the peloton felt sorry for both Froome and Contador after they exited the race, and no sensible human being would take pleasure in someone breaking bones, but as a result we, the viewing public, are getting the race we’ve been dreaming of.

Froome’s mastery last year meant the 2013 race was little more than a procession. This year the script promised a battle between Froome and Contador, a narrative that didn’t exactly set the pulse racing for a lot of cycling fans.

“The race will be the poorer for the absence of the two pre-race favourites,” said one commentator on Eurosport, but something close to the opposite has happened.

In any case, would Froome have held on to Nibali over those cobbles? The Italian had never raced them before but he showed something a lot of people had forgotten, that he is one of the world’s best handlers of a road bike.

I think Froome would have lost more time than Contador. Also, Nibali looks fantastic in the hills. He could well be coming of age here.

One other factor that may be contributing to the wow factor of this year’s Tour is that it looks as though there is less doping going on.

This is contentious, I realise. It’s an issue I refer to often and I remain unconvinced that is has disappeared, but the closeness of results and the unpredictability of the racing suggests this is the case.

I have zero proof, nothing but observations to go on and some comments from friends connected to top-level cycling, but a half-educated guess says this is what is happening.

Finally, there is the route the organisers have chosen. ASO boss Christian Prudhomme deserves huge credit for eschewing the standard Tour opening by throwing in daily stage routes with narrow curving lanes, hard little climbs, and a sever lack of straight, flat finishes.

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We’ve had rollers in Yorkshire, large stones in northern France and enough nasty hillocks in the Vosges to rock everyone’s legs – and to throw up all sorts of surprises.

It’s been a vintage Tour so far, let’s hope it continues.

Cancellara, Specialized and Menchov: The Tour de Devious


a version of this article originally appeared on The Roar


Intrigue and drama are never far from any Tour de France, but this one has been a doozy from Stage 1.

It started with the controversial sprint and subsequent exit of Mark Cavendish, followed by that massive day on the cobbles that saw Chris Froome leave the Tour with a fractured wrist and an incredible ride by Vincenzo Nibali.

It was then on to the rather lonely farewell of Alberto Contador as he patted Mick Rogers on the back and climbed into his team car, surrounded by low hanging clouds that seemed to have been summoned by a scriptwriter with a penchant for cliché.

But this has all been anything but cliché. It has, in fact, been one of the most fascinating starts to a Tour in many a year.

The abandonments of the three riders mentioned were not planned nor welcomed by anybody but perhaps their fiercest detractors and closest rivals, yet the reason that Fabian Cancellara has left the race is another kettle of fish altogether.

“I will travel home now and take a little break,” Cancellara told reporters as the rest day began. “The season has been long for me, starting back in Dubai.

“I have done 59 days of competition this season so far and I have another big goal at the end of this season: the World Championships.

“It’s not a secret that I’d like to be in my best shape there, so it’s important that I take some rest.”

Which all left me scratching my head and wondering a few things.

Had his team known that they’d be deprived of their best rider after ten stages? Did Cancellara plan this in advance, or was it a spur of the moment thing? Finally, is this not immensely disrespectful to the Tour de France?

Riders often ditch their spots in the Vuelta a Espana before its conclusion to prepare for the World’s but this might just be the first time that a rider has done the same thing at the Tour.

Perhaps others have used false injuries as excuses but none have come out to state the fact so bluntly as Cancellara.

Also, the Worlds comes soon after the Vuelta, this year towards the end of September, which is over two and a half months away.

That we’ve lost three of the sport’s stars was bad enough, but to have another name just decide to drop out, abandoning his teammates, his fans and the race itself, does not sit right.

That kettle of fish is a tad stinky.

Onto Contador and that bike. That bike that was reported as being broken and the reason for his crash even before he abandoned.

Bjarne Riis said soon after that he thought the crash had been caused because Contador had been eating and lost control of the bars and went down.

What was he eating? 86 kilograms of marzipan? Fried hippo on a stick? A Spanish cow perhaps?

That tosh was soon followed – and I mean immediately – by a statement from Specialized that denied the bike had been broken at all, despite NBC Sports’ Steve Porino, reporting that his bike had indeed been “in pieces.”

“His frame snapped in half. They threw it in a heap in the back of the car,” Porino said.

Then Specialized said Conty’s spare bike had fallen from the roof of the car, then they said that it was it was in fact Nicolas Roche’s bike that had been run over earlier despite the fact that it had a ‘31′ – Contador’s number – attached to the bike.

And then – yes, I am not joking – they claimed that Contador’s spare bike had been on the roof and that it had somehow collided with a Belkin spare that was on their roof. Quite how two bikes on separate roofs can collide without the two cars carrying them getting majorly dented was not explained.

Hmm, the intrigue builds.

“Yes, we can confirm that a delinquent child swapped Nicolas Roche’s number for a quickly and expertly constructed papier mache likeness of Contador’s number,” Specialized’s spokesperson should have said but didn’t.

“The wayward waif jumped on the car roof after the first descent with a bucket of paste and chicken wire and he’s shown us right up, the little card,” Specialized definitely did not say. “That’s all there is to it. Now then, move along.”

Then a photo of ‘Contador’s bike’ was posted that showed a Specialized that looked fine and was very unbroken in half and we were told that this was in fact ‘the bike’.

Might have been better, Specialized marketing folks, had you sent out a message offering condolences and a quick recovery to your sponsored rider and declining to comment on the bike until a later date.

The Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch might not be the best model on which to model your recent public statements.

Insert ‘Specialized bike’ every time Alberto – sorry John Cleese – says ‘parrot’ and you have a very keen replica of this current situation. The parrot even matches the colour of Contador’s Norwegian Blue bike. It’s too perfect.]


One last thing – check out the picture above. Is that not Contador’s bike, a broken one, with the doctor in white shirt and kahki trousers behind that attended him? Why would the team guy be carrying Contador’s broken bike, if it happened earlier with the alleged clash with Belkin, here? Confusing, indeed.

Finally, and this may not seem connected to the Tour de France 2014 but trust me, it is pertinent, comes the news of Denis Menchov’s ban for doping.

Menchov, busted for doping offences in 2009, 2010 and 2012, is the biggest name since Contador to be busted and yet for some reason the UCI tried to bury this news in a pdf on their website.

Now, why would the UCI, who under Cookson have been promising greater transparency, not announce the news that their biological passport had caught a big fish with a press release? Cookson has tried to explain the reasoning but he ended up admitting that the UCI might have handled it better.

Might have?

Menchov announced his retirement with a year left on his contract and said that it was the result of a knee injury, which seemed odd to say the least. If I didn’t know better I’d think that Menchov knew something was coming and decided to take the quiet road out.

Just last month Roman Kreuziger and Tinkoff-Saxo announced that the team management and rider had decided not to ride the race as the Kreuziger was under suspicion as a result of his blood values.

The news came from his team, not from the UCI. Why would the UCI, in these two cases, not release the news themselves to the media, instead leaving fans on forums to fill the vacuum? Do they not understand the need for full accountability?

More confusion comes from the actions, or inactions, of the authorities. We, the paid up members who pay our fees to race and who pay the salaries of the UCI, and others who watch the races on their tv sets, contributing to the huge TV deals, are not deemed to be important enough to be given explanations for these events.

Transparent? About as clear as the fog into which Alberto Contador disappeared.

Intriguing indeed,

Crank Punk Coaching Systems: racing the Salzkammergut Trophy!

yes, European Adventure #3 is mid-way through, and after a 2 week training session in Tuscany, based in Florence, tomorrow i race in the Salzkammergut Trophy in Austria. i’ll be doing the 119km route with 3,800m of climbing to come.

i wussed out a bit, as i could have done the 211km course with over 7,000m of uphill. but i do have an excuse – from the 20th to the 26th i’ll be racing in the Craft TransAlp with my teammate Jonathan Schottler, who is also racing tomorrow. so, best to keep the legs kinda fresh for that one.

legs don’t feel great and i’m still not feeling 100% after the auto-immune infection from 6 weeks ago (yup getting the excuses in early) but we shall see. we shall, in fact, crank on.



some images from last year, all courtesy of the Salzkammergut Trophy.

more to come soon from Tuscany and the rest of the trip.

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huge thanks to all my sponsors and all the people behind these names for making this happen: Lezyne, CCN, BLKTEC, 720Armour, XEndurance and Lapierre.


Tour de Cobbles: cp analysis on PEZ

As I was watching the Tour last night my waters broke.

And I didn’t even know I was pregnant.

I’m gonna call the baby ‘Stage 5′.

Read all about it on PezCycling News, just click on the image below.

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Cavendish the architect of his own downfall

this article originally appeared on The Roar


The English start to the 2014 Tour de France surpassed even the wildest dreams of the people of Yorkshire and London who made it happen, with the crowds by the roadside estimated at some 2.5 million per day.

Race Director Christian Prudhomme was fulsome in his praise of the start up in the north of the country.

“When you said you would deliver the grandest Grand Départ of the Tour it was the truth. You have raised the bar for all future hosts of the Tour de France,” said Prudhomme.

“I work for the Tour, but I also love the Tour, and I have seen that the people of Yorkshire love the Tour too. I can see the Tour in their hearts, and in their eyes. For that, I say thank you.

“Bernard Hinault said to me that it is the first time in 40 years on a bike that he has seen crowds like we saw this weekend.”

There was an estimated 60,000 people lining the climb of Holme Moss alone, an astonishing number to anyone who, like myself, has ridden up that lonely, bleak and windswept moor on their own. More astonishing still was the appearance put in by the sun. Perhaps he got a fee for turning up too.

It was all very English in an un-English sort of way, what with it being the Tour de France and all, and yet the English – or British, if you like – have had something of a stranglehold on the race in the past two years. With the current champion and the winner before him, as well as the greatest sprinter the Tour has ever seen all standing under the Union Jack, you’d think the Brits would be over the moon at the moment.

However, one of the three lions didn’t even get a place on the start line and another got himself so giddy at the thought of wearing Yellow on his native soil that he went and rode like a fool and crashed himself out of the whole thing.

That Wiggo isn’t racing has received enough attention, but it’s worth taking a moment to consider just how irresponsible and reckless was the ride Cavendish put in on Stage One.

There’s something to be said about being a great athlete and a man that commands respect, and there’s even more to say about a great athlete that’s rash and irresponsible.

Compare, if you will, Pele and Maradonna, or Ali and Tyson.

Maradonna was arguably the better footballer, but if you were to choose from the two a role model for youngsters it would be the Brazilian who would win out every time.

Tyson may have been the most ferocious and intimidating heavyweight of all time and was a brilliant technical boxer too, but Ali’s legend is built on far more than what he achieved in the ring. He is a great man. Tyson is a thug.

Cavendish is established and the greatest sprinter of all time. In his first season, 2007, he equaled Alessandro Petacchi’s record of 11 professional wins in a debut season.

In 2009 he became the first Briton since Tommy Simpson to win a Monument, Milan-San Remo. In 2010 he became the first Brit since Robert Millar to win a stage in every Grand Tour, and in 2011 became the first Briton since Simpson to win the World Championships.

In 2012 he became the first man to win on the Champs-Elysees four times in a row, and in the same year he became the most successful sprinter in Tour history with 23 stage wins, giving him more mass start wins than any other rider in the Tour de France, ever.

Some say he’s pretty good. I begrudgingly concur.

Cavendish’s record blows Kittel’s out of the water – it blows everybody’s palmares out of the water, in fact – but Kittel is coming along very nicely indeed. He won yesterday, has now won in every Grand Tour, and he has that air of invincibility about him that is reminiscent of another sprinter at times – namely, Cavendish.

But which would you rather have a beer with? One is affable, approachable and genuinely popular in the bunch, the other is none of those things. Whilst it is true that Cavendish’s nature is an essential component of his success it is also true that he has been openly disrespectful to other riders (ask Thor Hushovd about that), and that he causes crashes.

Never was this more true than on Stage One. Cavendish’s actions caused the crash, and though he apologised to Gerrans by telephone later, it’s an indication of how dangerous his sprinting was that the OGE team were angered that the UCI had declined to punish the Manx rider for reckless riding.

The reasons for Cavendish’s crash were twofold.

First off, he was desperate to win because he wanted Yellow on home soil. As a result he was eager as a lamb at its mother’s teet for the last 300 all day. Secondly, he does not respect his peers enough. Had it been Gerrans or another rider that had been forced to abandon the ride rather than the culprit himself, the organisers would have been justified in throwing him out of the Tour altogether.

Indeed, had that happened, the injured party might even consider whether he had a legal case against Cavendish.

Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff of Katusha even went so far as to compare Cavendish to Luis Suarez, the Uruguyan thrown out of the World Cup for biting an opponent.

“Suarez was banned for biting people in soccer and to me it looked like he crashed on purpose,” Kristoff said.

“At 60 kilometres an hour it’s really dangerous and you can injure people, so it’s not nice of him. In an uphill sprint you loose a bit of control sometimes. It’s not the first time he’s done this. I hope he calms down a little bit in the future. He’s a brilliant sprinter but it looks like he lost his head a little bit.”

Lost his head and lost his chance to prove that he still has the beating of an improved Kittel. Lost too even more respect from his peers, as well as wasted all the hard work his team would have put in in training to get ready for this race.

Kristoff will not be alone in his criticism of Cavendish and there won’t be much sympathy for him in the peloton either.

Finally, it wasn’t just himself he let down out there, not Simon Gerrans or anyone else behind him, but the British public who came out to cheer him on.

crankpunk on PEZ on le Tour

this article appeared earlier today before Stage 4 of the Tour de Kittel, so it bears no mention of the German’s 3rd win. however it does have a crack at Mark Cavendish.

read all about it by clicking the image below.

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Tales from the Tour #2

This article originally appeared on The Roar


First Roman Kreuziger, then Daryl Impey. Who next? Which of the best men from their generation will join these two fallen warriors, needle in arm/sicknote from Mum in hand/shocked expression on their chops (delete as approptiate) on the naughty step?

I’m with Sean Lee on this one, I have indeed heard it all before, and now Impey joins the long list of ‘It wasn’t me, honest’ chaps who invariably get slapped with a suspension.

Don’t fret though Daryl, Frank Schleck will be on the blower soon enough with some consoling words too, because he also never cheated but still got whacked with a ban.

The timing of the Kreuziger and Impey news is interesting, and does follow a pattern of sorts. Is ASO sending out a message to would-be dopers ahead of the Tour to let them know that they won’t be happy if they find any unsightly track marks and unauthorised inhalers?

Who can blame them? We’re a good few months into Brian Cookson’s new reign at the UCI and if I’m not mistaken, cycling fans who want a cleaner sport are still wondering just what plans are afoot to tackle the problem of chemically-enhanced performances.

There seems to be a whole lot of bluster and no little bluff, but just where the new policies and initiatives are is anyone’s guess.

Next up for a grilling are the Trek Factory boys. Samsung has just announced that they will be sponsoring the team which is good, though Fabian Cancellara’s interview recently when he spoke about the electronics giant coming on board was not quite as good.

“To say cycling has a bad past is bad,” he said, which makes me wonder what question could have prompted him to start talking about Lance Armstrong’s favourite subject when he was talking about his team’s newest sponsor.

“Cycling has lots of potential for sponsors. We should not look in the past, we have to look to the future. When we talk about the problems in sport, we should remember it’s a global sports problem, not only cycling had problems, the whole of sport had problems. These partners showed there’s a future.”

Agreed, global sports is also screwed, when you look closely enough, but the whole ‘forget the past thing’ is utter tripe. These guys may ride bikes very well but that doesn’t mean they have to be listened to when it comes to matters related to doping, thank goodness.

Back from the dead to a sort of waking coma stage are the aforementioned Frank and his brother Andy, who are both on the Trek roster for the Tour. The younger of the two once won one of those Yellow Maillot things once, remember?

Back in 2010? When he came second? But then Alberto Contador got busted for his love of Spanish beef? No, I can see I’ve lost you. Check Wikipedia. It happened, trust me.

Anyway, Andy is now pants, he even admits as much too.

“I’ve still got a name, good capacity and good legs even if I’m going into the Tour with low ambitions,” he trumpeted into the paper bag he’d just about managed to fight his way out of.

“There’s no need to go back over the past,” he continued, as he perched on Cancellara’s shoulder. “There’s a good interview on Cyclingnews that explains the last two years. This is not the place to go into details.”

So, where is the place Andy? Rumours are a-flying, you don’t need me to tell you that. A curious case indeed. Top 10 for the former Tour winner? I’d be surprised by a top 25.

Interestingly, Chris Froome out in his tuppence regarding Impey, a good friend of his, when he said it was “shocking” to hear of the South African’s positive test result.

However he did set himself apart from Cancellara and Andy when he started talking about the past, making it clear that he believes cycling has to sort the past out before it can move on.

“I do think it’s a good thing that we talk about it,” he said in a press conference ahead of the Tour start in Yorkshire. “That we put all of our cards on the table and we tell people how it is now. It is a shame that with cycling’s past we find ourselves in this situation now.

“But the only way we’re going to move on from it is to accept what has happened. Get it all out there. And then move on. Show people this is not how it’s done any more.”

Agreed! Shall we start with Sky then? Or…?

Finally, and back to Fabian for this one, the cobbles! The big man has warned of a “big attack” on the cobbles that loom in the first week of the 2014 Tour.

“When people ask if it’s safe or not, I say that we’re in the Tour de France and it’s part of racing,” he said of the decision to include the hallowed stones in the Tour.

I’ve already made my views clear on this subject as indeed did many of you, but it’s worth reminding ourselves of the havoc these cobbles could wreak on the peloton, and in particular on the skinny men.

Froome and Contador won’t like the idea of the stones and neither will the Schlecks, but hey, this is bike racing. The sprinters don’t like going uphill but they’d never ask for the Ventoux to be taken out of the race.

Suck it up, calorie counters!

Oh and just in case you’ve missed it – the Tour de France starts this Saturday. A part of me doesn’t want to enjoy it and yet I know I’ll be glued to my screen as the action unfolds. It’s tough love.

But it’s our love.


Tour Gossip and more, from crankpunk on The Roar

this article originally appeared on The Roar


The French! Where’s the Va-Va-Voom?

Je ne sais qoui is a French term that is generally used to define a certain undefinable quality that makes something or someone special, unique, pleasing or interesting.

In plain French it translates as ‘I don’t know what,’ and it might be time we started to use it in this sense when we talk about the French teams and riders at the Tour de France, perhaps in the sense of ‘I don’t know what the **** is wrong with French cycling.’

Of the four men who have won the Tour 5 times, two are French, Jaques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault. Of the nations that have won the Tour, the French top the list with 36 General Classification wins spread among 21 riders. These numbers far exceed those of the second nation, Belgium, which has 18 wins shared among 10 riders.

However, since Hinault won the Tour with his brilliant La Vie Claire team in 1985, no Frenchman has stood on top of the podium since. Jean-Francois Bernard was heralded as Hinault’s successor and he did have a decent career with 52 victories and a third place at the 1987 Tour, but he never hit the heights he was expected to.

In many ways, Bernard is typical of French riders ever since Hinault. Lots of talent, lots of support, and eventually just not good enough.

France will have five teams at this year’s Tour, with Cofidis, Europcar, FDJ, Bretagne-Seche and Ag2R, yet none will be taking a bonafide GC rider to the party. Cofidis have Dani Navarro and Europcar have perhaps the best French hope in Pierre Roland, but both will be better bets for a stage win or a KOM win.

Stage wins on the flatter terrain will be harder to come by as Nacer Bouhanni isn’t selected for the team (reports state he’s leaving at the end of the year), so one has to wonder what the French will come away with. Another disappointing Tour de France looks on the cards for the host nation.


Kreuziger’s blood troubles a negative for Contador

Timing, they say, is everything, and Christopher Froome and Dave Brailsford will probably be in agreement with that.

As news broke that Tinkoff-Saxo’s Roman Kreuziger has been placed under investigation by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CAFD) after they say they found anomalies in his biological passport between 2011 and 2012 and that Kreuziger had been pulled from the Tour team, the Sky men must have cast a knowing look towards one another.

You can read anywhere the ins and outs of Kreuziger’s case to date, but where I think he must be commended – and indeed his team, and I never thought I’d say that of a team run by Tinkoff and Riis – is that (as far as we know) the decision to pull the rider from the Tour until the case has been concluded came from them.

The cynical among us might claim that the decision was made because either there’s more information to come out soon that might make things worse for the rider, or because if he were to compete and aid Contador in his bid to win, the Spaniard’s victory would then be tainted.

Perhaps though he and his team are doing the right thing and wish not to drag the cycling through the mud anymore than it already has been. That would obviously be a first in the history of the sport, but you never know.

We can dream. A bit.

One thing is certain, Alberto Contador’s challenge has taken a blow. Rafal Majka will replace Kreuziger but he might not be fresh after riding the Giro, where he managed a very decent sixth on the GC, nor does he have Kreuziger’s experience.

The team management might have messed up in the first place in not selecting Majka for the Tour instead of the Giro. The young rider may have ridden well there but with Team Sky capable of turning up with such a strong team, any rider hoping to take on Froome surely should be arriving with the strongest team they can muster.

Majka was initially not happy about the news though, saying he had not recovered from the Giro and going so far as to question whether the team has any concern for his health. He changed his tune later though, but his initial reaction might be close to a truth or two.

For Tinkoff, this Tour is huge. He wants the win.


Froome will kick Conty’s backside in the TT

How can I be so sure?

Have a look at the Froome/contador head to head in time trials over the past two years.

So far it is 5-0 to Froome.

In the 2013 Tirreno-Adriatico, Froome beat Contador by 15 seconds over 9.2 kilometres.

In that year’s Criterium Dauphine, a 32.5km TT, Froome beat the Spaniard by 2 minutes 45 seconds.

On Stage 11′stime trialin the 2013 Tour de France, Contador ceded 2 minutes 3 seconds to Froome over 33km, then on Stage 17 lost 9 seconds over 32 km.

Finally, this year at the Criterium du Dauphine, Froome beat Contador by 8 seconds over 10.4km.

Add all this up and Froome is 5 minutes 20 seconds faster over 107.9km, making him 3 seconds faster over one kilometre.

Fascinating stuff, which all means that on the Stage 20, which is 54km, Contador will, on past evidence, be looking at losing over a minute to the Briton.

Contador will know this and will have to put time into Froome wherever he can. He’ll need a minute thirty to make the GC win a possibility, somewhere around or over two to make it a formality.

Otherwise, the yellow jersey will be Froome’s.