Rui Costa records a real win

Every stage is important in the Tour de France, even if it doesn’t affect the overall race. Rui Costa won stage 16 after spending the day in the break and many would argue it was a more significant victory than his two Tour de Suisse titles. I would be one of those people.

In the Tour de Suisse, he beat a handful of decent riders who were approaching top form. In the Tour de France, he beat a far greater number of decent riders, all of whom should have been pretty much at their best.

On ITV, commentator Paul Sherwen wasn’t surprised. He said that before the race he had expected Costa’s Movistar team to be “very, very omnipresent.”

Yellow

There was another race taking place 11 minutes back from Rui Costa where the overall contenders took part in exploratory jousting. Jabs and thrusts were common, but none was too serious. That said, the cumulative effect turned the peloton into a small group and Laurens Ten Dam was not among them, so he dropped below Nairo Quintana to sixth overall.

Joaquim Rodriguez was in there, however, and it was his team that did much of the damage. After that, Alberto Contador was looking decidedly feisty until he decked it on the final descent as a result of a surfeit of effervescence. The two Spaniards seem to be getting stronger as the tough mountain stages loom.

Thibaut Pinot abandons

Thibaut Pinot finished 10th last year, but he’s had to abandon. His team says it’s because of a sore throat, but the general vibe is that it’s more to do with his fear of cycling downhill – a fairly major handicap in a bike race.

Pinot had already been asking himself some serious questions about what he was going to do during the Tour. When he couldn’t follow Mark Cavendish on a descent…

“I received the clear response that I have nothing to do here.”

You could just chill out and enjoy the scenery?

Faeces news

Keeping you up to speed with all the important details, I can reveal the following:

Stage 17

A time trial, but a nicely lumpy one with difficult corners. Here’s the profile.

The stage should split the difference between time trial specialists and climbers, so it’ll be interesting to see who does well. As the best climber and second-best time trialist, Chris Froome is surely the favourite.