So Froome is looking invincible and the Tour is a foregone conclusion…
I’m a fan of clever racing and tactical nous, so I’m itching to see the other riders and teams trying to outsmart Sky and Froome. If nothing else, it makes for good watching.
So what tactics may work?
You need to look at something different and teams risking a little to make this happen. I’d like Tinkoff, BMC and Movistar to have a crack…maybe work over the race by setting a high tempo over all the climbs and shelling all but the contenders, therefore isolating Froome and then one/two him with repeated attacks on the flat sections, forcing him only to chase.
Stage 9 2013 – Garmin Sharp
On this stage Garmin set a ferocious pace with Jack Bauer and David Miller escaping, stringing out the bunch in chase. Once caught though, Garmin repeatedly attacked and forced the pace, quickly isolating Froome entirely from his team mates.
This is where I think the main contenders dropped the ball though. Here were 30 riders with only Froome left from Sky. There was a significant amount of flat terrain, so the main GC rivals and teams should have attacked him on the flat, forcing him to chase and eventually putting time into him. Instead they waited till the main climb (where there is no benefit from drafting for the others to capitalize on) and attacked him on his favourite playground. All he needed to do was up the pace and this discouraged attacks, limiting any losses. Opportunity lost (although Garmin scored a deserved stage win).
Stage 17 2006
The other great example of this is the infamous Landis stage 17 of the 2006 Tour that I mentioned yesterday. This tactic utilized the fact that the stage was either up or down, therefore enabling a strong individual to ride as fast as a group…e.g. no flat terrain for drafting to assist. Note in the video that Landis had allowed a rider 28 minutes down on GC to gain 30 minutes on a stage a couple of days earlier and how that worked out for him on the next couple of days.
Stage 13 2013
Crosswinds isolate Froome and the others capitalize on stage 13 of the 2013 Tour. Fairly straight forward, but taking advantage of a situation as it happens on the road.
There are probably many other ways that an astute director or rider may think to put Froome and Sky on the ropes and the likes of Nibali, Contador and Valverde may well have some tricks up their aero sleeves. Maybe Garmin has a new plan. Rodriguez and Fuglslang are ones to watch I think too. Either way, lets see some risk of losing second, third or tenth with a shot at taking the yellow.