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The Queen stage is always a spectacle, and with over 5,200m of altitude gain to tackle, 68km of today's 165.7km distance was categorised climbing, and it was a daunting prospect that lay ahead for the remaining 155 riders of the Tour.

The Col de la Loze is a truly monstrous beast, both in terms of length and variable gradient, and it was an attritional climb, a wearing down, as a talented and quality break laboured ahead of a chasing pack of GC leaders and their teams, and it went on, and on, and on. And riders were broken, one by one. And one of them was Tadej Pogačar.

After a crash early in the day, and looking distinctly less than 100%, it was a capitulation from the challenger, and a confirmation of what yesterday's time trial had already strongly suggested: that barring incident or accident, Jonas Vingegaard will win his second Tour de France, and stand on the top step in Paris wearing the yellow.

One thing is for sure: the stage encapsulated the best and worst of the Tour. The brutality, and suffering, and the crazy fans. The majesty of the scenery, feats of incredible endurance and mental fortitude, and acts of selflessness in support of teammates. It was beautiful and terrible and memorable and emotional. It was the spirit of this unique sport, in one afternoon.

Let's proceed to try and describe some of what went on.

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def: prepare your musettes!

Looking ahead to tomorrow...

Cuisine du Jour

Stage 18 - Moûtiers - Bourg-en-Bresse (184.9km, Flat)

Stage 18 Profile, courtesy of FirstCycling

Well, the sprinters have hung on over the Alps and will once again have the chance to flex their fast twitch reflexes - at least, the ones who are left. With the retirement of Phil Bauhaus today, the reserves of fast men at Le Tour have been somewhat depleted, with Cavendish, Jakobsen and Ewan also having departed the race. But we still have Pedersen, Van Aert, Welsford, Groenewegen, Van Poppel and Meeus and oh - that one guy? In the green suit? can't quite remember him, hopefully he'll have some luck tomorrow.

Anyway, they've been banging about in the Alps for so many days now I've exhausted all cuisine options, and frankly after today we all need some down time, a bit of relaxation and yes, a drink. Now, I know Stine has you covered for drinks but personally I'm happy to throw an extra tipple into the mix.

Let's face it, tomorrow is going to be seriously low-key by comparison today; there's going to be very little desire to go in the breakaway, and the GC guys will all be happy to sit out, so let's crack open the Apremont, a delicious, fruity white wine from the Savoie wine region, and hang the consequences. Light and floral, with citrus or apple aromas, this is the crisp, delicious, refreshing nectar that will soothe the souls and cool us all down after a hot day in the hills. Apparently sometimes the wines have hints of peach, pineapple, jasmine, or even honeysuckle. Sweet.

Apparently, Apremont wines are best enjoyed young: make of that what you will - the youngest sprinter on the startline tomorrow (assuming no-one falls ill overnight) well, it's probably that green one isn't it? Yes, we're tipping Jasper Philipsen to make it five tomorrow in Bourg-en-Bresse. Cheers!


def: after the effort, the comfort

Taking a sideways look back at the day's action, to reflect, reconcile and remember.


Describing today's stage is no mean feat. Here are some images and accompanying words to attempt to convey some of the many storylines from the day, on a day which was dominated by the man already in yellow, strengthening his claim on the maillot jaune and showing that even being literally brought to a standstill by cars/motos/fans can't slow his march towards Paris. These are the other words that summed up the day...


In more ways than one. Once again, France showed us her beautiful best, with plenty of sweeping heli shots and panoramic views on a red hot day in the Alps, and though it was the action on the road that took our breath away in the end, we thankfully had enough time in between moments of excitement to take in the likes of these stunning views:


Fans dealt blows by riders as they came too close, riders brought to a standstill as the cars and motos struggled to navigate the hairpins. The chaos of the Tour was on full display today, for better or for worse. We saw Kelderman and Vingegaard halted live but this clip did not make it to air, on the broadcast I saw at least - as an example of what went on. Just, madness.


Cycling is beautiful. The stories of selflessness enacted by teammates today brought me to tears, such is the nature of the sport. It's the same every day but today just hit different, as the majesty and brutality of the Queen stage brought out the best in everybody.

Mattias Skjelmose, leading the charge up to the summit of every categorised climb (bar the Col de la Loze) in support of Giulio Ciccone, to help him strengthen his claim on the polka dot jersey.

Jack Haig working on the front of the breakaway for the improvement on GC of his teammate Pello Bilbao - an effort that paid off with a podium place for Bilbao and rising from 7th to 6th in the standings.

Chris Harper giving everything for Simon Yates. It didn't work out in the end as Yates missed out on the stage win, but he jumps up 3 places on GC after an excellent ride.

The final Aussie in a trio of domestiques to make the difference on today's stage, Ben O'Connor, who after sacrificing his own leadership following a less than auspicious start to the race, also sacrificed his hopes of a stage win for the fearless Felix Gall, who went on to win the stage.

And Marc Soler. Often spoken of as a lone wolf, or a reluctant team player, Soler proved today he was as good a friend and teammate as anyone could hope for. He towed Pogačar up the final climb, despite the agonising length of it and his leader's evaporating GC hopes, staying by his side to the very last. Truly humbling.


Each rider who made it over the line today has their own story to tell, and each and every one is a hero in my eyes. Many of them are mentioned elsewhere in the bulletin, but a word here for David Gaudu and his Groupama-FDJ teammates. After a Tour that's been nothing write home about, four of the team made it up the road into the break today, and three of them finished in the top 15. Madouas and Pinot rode admirably but Gaudu's gritty determination, to pick up and ride with Bilbao and Vingegaard over the top of the Col de la Loze, meant that he hung on for 5th place. Despite being sad about the result, as they had aimed for the win, he's still the best Frenchman both on the day and at this year's Tour so far, in GC terms.

All this after intense scrutiny and plenty of criticism both of the team and of individuals within it, and all delivered with characteristically brutal honesty each day, as Gaudu has submitted his own self-examination, and hasn't pulled any punches, following a turbulent season. Chapeau to the Breton on his ebullient, never-say-die resilience.

Stage 17 in 17 WORDS

Domination: the turning of the screw
Capitulation: the breaking of the back
Selflessness: one goal, above all

I need a drink!

with mixologist Stine Momo Agerbæk

I don’t recall seeing something as heart-breaking as the moment Pogačar called his team car today since… yeah, you all know exactly what 2020 event compares emotionally.

(Okay, Wout post the Roubaix puncture this year was also in that group, but running out of gas vs a puncture feels a lot different to me).

Finding a suitable drink for this is hard, and I am sorry Felix Gall, but you’ll have to stick to some celebratory drink from another stage, because today is for Tadej.

Edward Pickering had a rather literary way of describing today, that inspired me today:

Hemingway means one drink; The Daiquiri.

It’s as white as Pogačar’s jersey, and easy, comforting and refreshing, which I guess we can all use today.

The heat today was unforgiving, so to cool down our visibly overheated 2020+2021 champion, you can serve it over crushed ice and call it a Daiquiri Frappé

Or go all out and make it a little more fruity and frozen… aka the classic Frozen Daiquiri.

Lastly, since we’re on the topic of alcoholic authors, the so-called Hemingway Champagne aka Death in the Afternoon is named after the novel - but could rightfully also have been named after what Tadej Pogačar experienced on Col de la Loze today.

I deeply hope the can recover and replenish his body and spirit, so this won’t be the way we remember his last week of TdF2023. If anything he deserves to go out with a bang, rather than with a heart-breaking radio call to the car. Most of all I hope he’ll be okay!

So, cheers to a supportive team, fighting through and to better days before Paris.

Vive la Lanterne Rouge


Yes, on the stage with the most altitude metres of this year's race, the final rider over the line was a rider who was in contention for last year's King of the Mountains jersey until the late stages of the race - quite the irony.

No, it wasn't the best of days for Cofidis' bearded veteran, but he made it, with just a minute to spare.

So while we wait to find out how Simon is taking his new role, let's find out 3 facts about him!

  1. He's vegan, and he has an amazing beard - the best in the peloton, according to Matt Stephens (Geoffrey Soupe may wish to have a word about this one)

2. His Dad was a track cyclist.

3. He enjoys polka dots when off the bike, too:

Source: Simon Geschke Facebook


noun: the refuelling

Features to enhance your Tour experience, and refresh your mind after a long day's cycling viewing.

Stat du Jour

by Sam Mould

So there it was, stage 17.  The highest point of this years Tour de France: as they went over the peak of Col de la Loze, they were 2,304m over sea level.  Given that the world’s tallest building is 829.8m tall, at the peak of Col de la Loze the riders were at 2.78 times the height of the aerial on Burj Khalifa.

But while that may sound impressive, it’s not a measurement we are using to visualize, so to assist: it stands 1,294.38 Felix Galls tall.

Not only was today the highest point but unsurprisingly, it was the most climby of all the stages with a total assent of 5,210m.


Band of Brothers

There are 27 nations represented at this year's Tour, and coincidentally, 21 of them have two or more riders. Each day, we'll take a look at a different nation, evaluate their chances of success and throw in a random fact or two, and add to our 'National Standings' chart to see if numerical advantage translates to more stage wins. Dedicated to Justdiggit, Gino's charity of choice, who have set up a specific project in Gino's memory - please consider donating to them, during the Tour.

This segment is dedicated to the memory of the late Gino Mäder


As we move into the latter stages of the race, we have just a few nations left to cover, and they are not traditionally nations we'd see on our leaderboard, mostly just because these nations have many less riders than some of the more populous countries.

New Zealand would have had one more on the start line, were UAE's George Bennett not to have crashed at the Tour de Suisse, thus ruling him out of the squad. But as it is they have two riders representing them - Israel-Premier Tech's Corbin Strong, and Intermarché-Circus-Wanty's Dion Smith.

Strong has been the more animated of the two, with a few breakaway efforts, and of course that viral clip of him basketing his bidon (see yesterday's Dispatch for the video evidence). He has achieved a top 10 for his troubles, on stage 8 into Limoges (the stage won by Mads Pedersen - yes, I know, it feels like another lifetime).

It's been a quieter Tour for the older rider, Smith, who's mainly been functioning in a domestique role, with his best finishing position 33rd on stage 4.

They may not trouble the standings this time around, but you never know how they may fare in future, with Strong improving, and the likes of Finn Fisher Black rising through the ranks.

Graphic design: Sam Mould

Pardon my French

avec Mathieu Fraisse

Queen stage here we gooo! Jonas Vingegaard got the upper hand on Tadej Pogačar during yesterday time trial.

But Tadej said that he will still try… So breakaway day or GC day? Anyway, with more than 5000+ meters, something you don't want to experience is today's French word 😬

Fringale | fʁɛ̃ɡal

A rider doesn't have enough sugar in his body and is experiencing extreme weakness. Engine is running out of fuel and the machine doesn't work like it's supposed to.

E.g. : attention à la fringale dans la montée du Col de la Loze

Be careful of the 'fringale' in the Col de Loze ascent

Cycling is a very demanding sport. The effort can be long, intense and your body needs to be fed and watered quite regularly.

Caught in the effort, the goal or the pressure, riders might forget to eat and experience a 'fringale'.

"Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy". Eminem might not be a pro cyclist, but he knows what a 'fringale' feels like it seems.

As their body is running low on fuel, riders are feeling stuck to the asphalt. They can't move like they used to or wanted to.

The 'fringale' is the worst enemy of riders. It can ruin your hopes and dreams just because you didn't eat that rice cake, took that gel or drank that bottle.

The road to the Champs-Élysées is still quite long but don't forget to take care of yourself, eat regularly, drink water a lot and then it'll be pizza party and beer on the Champs! 🔥

The moment the dream ended for Tadej Pogačar

YéYé, c'est Le Tour de France 2023

with DJ Momo

I’ll keep it brief today… It was a bit of an emotionally intense stage for many I reckon.

61: The breakaway of today was some of the bravest boys in the peloton if you ask me. With the looming threat of an all out GC battle and a scary amount of altitude metres ahead of them, they still went off - and it paid off for several of them, either in the form of a stage win or a surge up the GC. So hats off to the breakaway!

62: So… Guess at least the moto madness/spectator shenanigans have been evenly split between the #1 and #2 in the GC by now. And that’s not a good thing. Barriers do exist in France, don’t they? Well, anyways… Here’s Weird Al’s take on Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy… With a rather fitting text update to go with those scenes on Col de la Loze.

63: I have no idea if Felix Gall and the French chanteuse are related. Probably not… But we are in France and Gall took a magnificent stage win today, keeping everyone behind him not only on the final slopes of Loze and the hellish wall at the line, but also on the descent, something he visibly struggled with in Tour de Suisse. That’s character development for the upcoming Netflix season right there - and it comes with a lovely soundtrack as well!

64: Dear Tadej. Please don’t despair. Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush are rooting for you and so am I. And well, probably most of the cycling world alongside us.

The song is dedicated to the whole UAE team as well.

Kate Bush’ lines specifically combined with the imagery of support and care given to the suffering white jersey by his teammates is making me tear up as I write this. But it’s okay. Cycling sometimes makes you cry. But it’ll make you smile again soon, and I suspect so will Pogacar.

Uno-X Watch

It's been a magnificent Tour de France debut for the young Tobias Johannessen. The former Tour de l'Avenir winner has been quietly notching up big results, and 6th place on today's stage is surely the crowning glory among them. Here he is, looking rightfully pleased with himself.


def: The bits and bobs, the shiny things, the small treasures that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Rider doing something they’re not supposed to be doing of the day

Pello Bilbao was fined for striking a spectator... it's hard to argue though given the chaos they were riding through.

Don't mess with Pello Bilbao

Also Jack Haig who let's face it, should be lying on a beach somewhere sipping cocktails given the amount he's done, riding the Giro d'Italia, Critérium du Dauphiné and now the Tour. We hope Bahrain-Victorious give that man a pay rise! And that he's supping margheritas somewhere sunny ASAP.

Tweets of the Day

Some fun banter on Twitter today, with Jayco Alula's press officer expressing what we were all thinking:

Ever the animators of a Twitter feed, the Lidl-Trek social media team have once again surpassed themselves with this cheeky little post, as we look ahead to tomorrow's sprint stage.

Photo competition

Sponsored by Jen’s Cycling Art

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