We’re now a week into the Tour de France 2020 and the general classification remains perfectly poised.
After chaotic racing on the opening stage around Nice and two summit finishes, all the favourites for the general classification are separated by just 13 seconds with more mountains on the way this weekend.
But some fans and pundits have highlighted the lack of stinging attacks from the GC contenders so far in the race, as both mountain finishes ended in a stalemate between the favourites.
Enric Mas, Movistar’s best placed rider in the overall standings, has said that people wouldn’t be so quick to criticise if they saw the speed on these climbs.
In an interview with Spanish newspaper (opens in new tab) AS (opens in new tab) Mas, who finished second in the 2018 Vuelta a España, said: “What I’m going to say may be controversial, but I’ll say it.
“The other day some spectators, commentators and journalists complained that on the way to Privas there was no escape or that in previous stages there were no attacks.
“I think that if they were on the bike and saw the speeds at which we climb they wouldn’t say these things.”
Mas said that on the first mountain finish of the race to Orcières-Merlette on stage four, the main group climbed at between 30 and 35km/h, making it impossible to launch an attack without being caught immediately.
Then on stage six to Mont Aigoul, Mas says that Ineos Grenadiers domestique Jonathan Castroviejo pushed between 5.5 and six watts per kilogram for the climb.
Mas added: “Either you’re riding well, or you get dropped and go backwards.”
Stage five from Gap to Privas marked a unique moment in the Tour - a full stage with no breakaway.
Riders put the lack of attacks down to a very fast, mostly downhill stage, a headwind start and the almost-guaranteed sprint finish for the line.
Power data from the stage also suggests it was an easy run before the set-up for the sprint in the final 20km, with most riders averaging under 200w
But after a tough opening week to the Tour and very little racing in the weeks before due to the coronavirus shutdown, the numbers don’t tell all of the story.
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