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TDF’17 ROADSIDE: Ed’s Second Rest Day Round Up!
Roadside Final Rest Day Round Up: The Riders have their feet up for the second Tour de France rest day, with six stages to go till Paris and the last finish line. Ed and Martin are on their way home, but as they sit in Montpelier airport there is time to look back at the first two weeks and forward to the big finalé.

On the first rest day we had a look at how our “baker’s dozen” of PEZ race favorites were doing. On the second rest day we thought we’d have another look:

Fabio Aru (Astana & Italy) still sits in second spot @ 18 seconds but that should really be first place. On Stage 14 into Rodez where Sunweb’s Aussie Michael Matthews won, the Sardinian surrendered a chunk of time on the steep ramp to the line. But the fault was not with Aru, rather his team who left him isolated - Sky spotted his predicament and 'stepped on it' to put Froome back in yellow. It's hard to figure out why Astana are so lack lustre - they're always so strong in the Giro and Vuelta. We see it being hard for Aru to beat Sky single handed but a podium is still possible.

Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale & France) is still in third spot @ 23 seconds and has a stage win to his name. His AG2R team are highly motivated and he told L'Equipe yesterday that he and his team have vowed to give their all in the Alps, next week. He's looking good but if he's to win overall he'll have to put time into Froome before the Stage 20 chrono in Marseille where the Briton will beat him by at least a minute.

Peyragudes - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Romain BARDET (France / Team AG2R La Mondiale) - Rigoberto URAN URAN (Columbia / Cannondale Drapac Professsional Cycling Team) - Fabio ARU (Italy / Team Astana) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 12 from Pau to Peyragudes, 214.50 km - foto VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Esteban Chaves (Movistar & Colombia) didn't race between the Sun Tour and Dauphine and is way off the pace in 54th place @ 1:28:15. He's here to re-find his rhythm - a stage win in the Alps? Maybe - but with Yates in white and a possible podium contender the Colombian and the rest of the team may well be 'all for Simon.'

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo & Colombia) looked to be on the dreaded 'one Tour too many' but has perked up these last few stages. The team will want him to consolidate his top ten position - those World Tour points are vital. But Alberto is proud man and will want to be remembered in this race and not finish an anonymous eighth or ninth, where he currently sits @ 5:37. A stage win the Alps? Possible but unlikely.

Foix - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO (Spain / Team Trek Segafredo) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 13 from Saint-Girons to Foix, 101.00 km - foto VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Christopher Froome (Sky & GB) his performance in the Stage One time test had us thinking the Tour was won already and these thoughts were only bolstered on Stage Five to Planche des Belle Filles where he was impressive again. But then came the stumble on Stage 12 to Peyragudes which was won by Bardet. And the 'is Landa stronger?' over analysis. But these last few days have seen some solid team tactics by Squadra Murdoch with Christopher back in yellow. But it's all down to the Alps, next week – and just maybe the final chrono?

Peyragudes - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Christopher - Chris FROOME (GBR / Team Sky) - Fabio ARU (Italy / Team Astana) - Romain BARDET (France / Team AG2R La Mondiale)pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 12 from Pau to Peyragudes, 214.50 km - foto Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana & Denmark) is out.

Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors & Ireland) has been riding very strongly given he lost a minute-and-a-quarter when he came down in that horror crash with Porte on Stage Nine. But for that he would be right there; he's currently in fifth spot @ 1:12 and despite his chute is enjoying his race and will surely have something to say come the Alps.

Peyragudes - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Daniel MARTIN (Ireland / Team Quick Step - Floors)  pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 12 from Pau to Peyragudes, 214.50 km - foto  Poolphoto Bernard Papon/Cor Vos © 2017

Rafa Majka (Bora-hansgrohe & Poland) is out and already preparing for the Tour of Poland.

Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates & RSA) is still in our "Just Difficult to Drop" file and eighth place @ 5:09 but we do hear rumors that a certain Sardinian is joining the Middle Eastern team for next season so that explains some 'unnecessary' tempo riding by Louis and the boys.

Richie Porte (BMC & Australia) is out.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar & Colombia) is paying the price for attempting the Giro/Tour 'double' – he sits 11th at an unfamiliar 6:16. His words at the rest day press conference were philosophical; "We’ve got badly accustomed to winning or being up there inside the top guys at every single Grand Tour we went to in the past. This is life – you’ve got to take the blows and accept defeat with the same humility as you do when you’re a winner." We get the feeling that Sen. Quintana might not go all the way to Paris.

Foix - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS (Columbia / Team Movistar) - Michal KWIATKOWSKI (Poland / Team Sky) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 13 from Saint-Girons to Foix, 101.00 km - foto VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Allessandro Valverde (Movistar & Spain) is out.

Simon Yates (Orica-Scott & GB) whilst it's great to see a young Englishman in white; Martin, pass me the "Just Difficult to Drop" file again please.

Of our 13 favorites, four are out. Of the remaining nine, seven are in the top ten, the two ‘under achievers’ being Quintana 11th and Chaves in 54th spot.

The ones we didn’t expect are Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac & Colombia) who lurks menacingly in fourth spot @ 29 seconds; Mikel ‘Mikey’ Landa (Sky & Basque Country) who’s in sixth spot @ 1:17 despite being in the service of Froome and ready to step up if Christopher should stumble and Damiano Caruso (BMC & Italy) has ghosted his way into 10th spot. Kiwi George Bennett (LottoNl-Jumbo) was in the top 10 but has slipped to 12th but is only 24 seconds outside a historic top 10 spot.

Pau - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Marcel KITTEL (Germany / Team Quick Step - Floors) - Dylan GROENEWEGEN (Netherlands / Team Lotto NL - Jumbo) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 11 from Eymet to Pau, 203.50 km - foto NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

In the green jersey competition, Michael Matthews (Sunweb & Australia) has chipped his deficit back to 79 points on leader, Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors & Germany) who’s on 373. If Kittel fails to survive the Alps then Matthews could yet do it, third placed André Greipel (Lotto Soudal & Germany) has a deficit of more than 100 points on Matthews.

Peyragudes - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Warren BARGUIL (France / Team Sunweb) - Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS (Columbia / Team Movistar) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 12 from Pau to Peyragudes, 214.50 km - foto Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017

In the montagne contest it's hard to imagine anyone overtaking Warren Barguil (Sunweb & France) who leads Primoz Roglic (LottoNl-Jumbo & Slovenia) by 116 points to 38.

Aforementioned Simon Yates leads the 'Jeunes' competition by 3:07 from Louis Mentjies.

Top 'baroudeur' is Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal & Belgium) with 687 kilometers on the attack - the race has covered 2,664 kilometers thus far so Thomas has been 'away' for a quarter of the race. We have 175 riders left from 198 and 875 kilometers still to run.

The two Alpine stages will be crucial and it just may all come down to the final 22.5 kilometer TT in Marseille.

An exciting six days are in prospect.

The Final Six Stages:
Stage 16 from Le Puy-en-Velay to Romans-sur-Isere, 165K comes after the second rest day and climbs from the line then rolls but should be one for the sprinters who can cope with a little gravity.

Stage 17 La Mure to Serre-Chevalier, 183K over the HC Croix de Fer, cat. one Telegraphe and HC Galibier (at 2,642 meters the Henri Desgrange memorial) – we don’t need to tell you that it’s a savage shift for the convicts of the road BUT with 30K off the summit to the line the day is saveable, perhaps.

Stage 18 Briançon to Izoard, 179K and that’s as in ‘top of the Izoard’ – as Don Henley said; ‘Kick ‘em When They’re Down’ – a finish atop the Izoard after the Galibier stage, sore! We should know who’ll win the Tour by the end of this day.

The lunar style Izoard

Stage 19 Embrun to Salon-De-Provence over 222K and whilst it’s spiky, the trend is down, down, down. One for the ‘battlers’ with the sprinters and their teams catching a whiff of their pizza on the Champs Elysees. . .

Stage 20 and a 22.5K ‘French Connection’ style chrono chase through the streets of Marseille – will it all come down to this day? Both PEZ and the organizer hope so.

Will Chris Froome be in yellow for the final TT?

Stage 21 Montgeron to those cobbled Elysian Fields, 103K; but only one man can gambol with the Gods – the rest will have to make do with champagne, pizza and meeting their women folks again.

# Best keep it PEZ'd for the best in race photography and reportage. #

It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he's covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,500 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself - many years and kilograms ago - and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site where more of his musings on our sport can be found.


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