Have to say stage 10 was very disappointing.
Big screw up letting Edvald Boasson Hagen soft pedal halfway up the Colombier, meaning the Porte and Rogers had little work to do. If Hincapie and Gilbert are happily in the peloton on a HC climb, then you know it’s not beeing pushed hard enough.
Nibali, Evans and Van Den Broeck can’t afford to let Sky ride a soft tempo up the HC climbs, as tempo climbers like Porte, Rogers and Wiggins will eat it up all day. Waiting for Wiggins to be tired in week 3 where you have maybe 2 whole decisive days only is a rubbish strategy if you let him soft pedal with his team through week 2.
Evans in particular got stage 10 completely wrong when Nibali got away. Nibali and Samu Sanchez are easily the two best descenders amongst the climbers and Wiggins one of the worst with Basso, and Evans not going with Nibali was a major fail. Nibali basically sat up and waited to be rode down when nearly 1 minute up as he didn’t want to ride against Sky once Sagan dropped off. Meanwhile, Evans had two teammates up the road in Cummings and Burghardt but was too conservative to go with Nibali.
Have to think that Evans is going to merely ride for second here as he’s too scared to lose his podium for a shot at winning. That’s my major issue with Evans in GTs (and indeed most stage races) – he’s just too conservative and too afraid to put in that big effort. He’s been more attacking since the WC win, but it’s still not enough. He needs to take maybe 4 mins on Wiggins before the final Time Trial, and waiting until the final 1km of mountain stages after Sky have ridden the perfect tempo for Wiggins the rest of the stage is just a useless strategy.
Watching the Sky train ride tempo through all the mountain stages and Evans sit on is going to be so disappointing, hate to say it.
This tour desperately needs a Contador – someone who is confident enough to attack early and shake things up.
Looking forward to Stage 11
As for stage 11, Nibali and Cadel and Van Den Broeck and anyone else who wants to work against Sky need to put Porte and Rogers under pressure on the Croix de Fer, if not earlier. If they wait until La Toussuire they will fail as it is a huge tempo climb, with nice long areas of 6% where the Sky train can happily run down any attempted escapees.
The best tactic would be to make sure at least Edvald Boasson Hagen and Rogers are well gone before the end of the Croix de Fer, and Porte has been made to do a lot of work. The descent of the Croix de Fer isn’t technical enough for Nibali or Evans to get away, but the descent from Col du Mollard is, so they need to go there, best 1km or 2km from the top as waiting for the descent is harder. Hopefully by then Porte will be buggered leaving it anyone who gets up the road vs Wiggins and Froome, a winnable battle.
In reality, I am willing to wager that no-one puts Sky under pressure apart from the odd attack from Van Den Broeck, Nibali attacks on the descent but gets reeled in and Evans sits in until 1km to go and tries another pointless attack that gets nowhere. So damn frustrating to watch.