Philippa York analysis: Magical mystery Tour

UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar edges out Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic (right) and Sunweb’s Marc Hirschi (centre) for the victory on stage 9 of the 2020 Tour de France
UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar edges out Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic (right) and Sunweb’s Marc Hirschi (centre) for the victory on stage 9 of the 2020 Tour de France (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

There's an excitement in the peloton when the Tour de France heads towards the big mountains, especially when it's the Pyrenees that begin the action. The promise is of a proper sort-out between the team leaders, where some will flourish whilst others whither. However, to get to there, quite often you need to survive a windy stage or two before you find typical Pyrenean weather, which can vary from hot, humid and threatening one day, followed by misty, cold and wet the next.

It's essential to arrive in the mythic terrain with most of your faculties, and then you have to adapt from pulling the big ring round to pedalling the inner one with suppleness – or, as the French say, en souplesse. It seems a much more elegant expression of the pedalling technique required, although it disguises the effort involved somewhat by its hint of femininity.

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