140km to go: The intermediate sprint point for today is coming up fairly soon, at Frangy, after 44km of racing. If this comes back together, Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) will no doubt try and tighten his grip on the points competition there. But it seems more likely, given the intensity of the racing, that a breakaway group will have formed by that point.
Or, perhaps the sprinters’ teams are going to work up until then, then let a break go afterwards? We’ll see.
141km to go: Poels flies down the wet descent, occasionally slipping and sliding on the road slightly. He’s got 14 seconds on the chasers. The peloton is completely strung out behind – it’s a fierce start to the day, much like it was yesterday.
143km to go: Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) is pictured labouring at the back of the race, having been dropped by the main peloton. Much more of this and any ambitions of a decent GC finish will be totally gone: he is over five minutes off the pace already so a victory is pretty much out of the question, barring miracles.
146km to go: Poels, the former Team Sky/Ineos climber, has gone solo at the front on this ascent, which is interesting. At the back of the field, riders are being dropped left, right and centre, including four-times champion Chris Froome.
What is Poels up to for Bahrain Victorious? It’ll be a looooong day if he does manage to make a solo break stick, but other teams behind are trying to bridge across – this isn’t done yet. He has 18 seconds as they crest the climb and embark on the wet descent.
148km to go: Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos) are attacking up at the front – today’s race, if you didn’t know, has kicked off on steep ascent to Oyonnax. Nairo Quintana (Arkéa–Samsic) has also had a bash.
149km to go: There was a slight delay to the start – I think because a rider in the bunch suffered a mechanical. Anyway, the flag has dropped on a rainy day in France and the racing, predictably, is fierce from the off. Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) clearly fancies it. Surely, after the manic day yesterday, the teams will find some kind of ceasefire and let an acceptable breakaway go?
Can a 249.1km stage ever be ‘easy’? It seems unlikely: but the riders would have hoped for something far more serene than the manic scenes of yesterday, when a large breakaway group containing the yellow jersey, the green jersey and a couple of dozen of seriously strong riders escaped up the road and ensured an intensely demanding day of racing. Matej Mohoric took the stage victory at the end of it all, and the general classification was shaken up no end on one of the most exciting Tour stages in recent memory.
As a result of all that craziness, there are going to be some seriously tired and sore bodies in the peloton going into today’s stage, the first mountain test of this year’s race, from Oyonnax to Le Grand Bornand. Five categorised climbs await the riders on today’s 150.8km route. They will crest the last of them, the Col de la Colombière, with 14.8km to go after which it will be a flat-out descent to the finish.
Rain is forecast, many of the usual breakaway suspects will be eyeing up glory with a stage win, the GC teams and riders will potentially be on the attack – or forced to defend – and after all the drama and excitement that was packed into the Tour’s first week, the race doesn’t really start until it hits the mountains. Allez!