Another rest day, another rest day roundup. With the mighty Ventoux out of the way but a very tough final week – with a hilly time trial and that double ascent of Alpe d'Huez – the teams will be taking stock of who's where, and who they've got left. Here's our rundown of the teams
Sky are still in the box seat with Froome four minutes up on the rest of the field; Mollema, Contador and Kreuziger are massed behind him. It's going to take some exceptional riding on the part of someone else, or some bad luck for Froome, for him to lose this Tour. The second time trial arguably doesn't suit him as much as the first but he's unlikely to lose significant time to anyone in the top ten, and the story of the summit finishes so far is that he's the strongest climber, capable of opening big gaps.
Sky are down to seven now, with Boasson Hagen exiting with a broken collarbone on stage 13. It's possible that with him they would have had a better time trying to close down the Saxo-Tinkoff attack on stage 14 and the other teams will be looking for opportunities to attack again on the less mountainous terrain, but whether they'll get the conditions to make it stick is unlikely. For the hilly stages that matter – the summit finishes – Froome's leadout of Siutsou, Kennaugh and Porte has looked more or less invincible. For something to happen in the GC the other teams will need to find a way to break up that train.
Bauke Mollema on the Ventoux (Belkin website)
Come on then – who thought Belkin would have two riders in the top five going into the last week? Us neither. But Mollema and Ten Dam have really stepped up to the plate and it's a cracking start for the new sponsor. They haven't had a stage win yet, and they're no doubt angling for one; Sep Vanmarcke is an outside chance for Tuesday's stage to Gap. They still have a full team so there's plenty of riders left to protect Mollema and Ten Dam ahead of the important second time trial.
Mollema will be looking over his shoulder though. Contador was ten seconds slower on the time trial than Mollema, and six seconds quicker on the ascent of the Ventoux, so they're well matched and that's clear from the fact that they're separated by just 11 seconds in the GC.
Contador will need to take some serious time out of Froome to win from over four minutes back. His first target is Bauke Mollema though, and there's every chance he'll be able to overhaul the Belkin rider on Wednesday. The second time trial seems to favour the Spaniard as much as anyone: two climbs and two descents, and Contador's an expert at both. Froome won't be relishing those solo downhill sections; he's great at following a wheel but unlikely to be able to match Contador's descending pace when isolated.
Even so, there won't be four minutes between them unless Froome ends up in a ditch. So Saxo-Tinkoff will need to be on the attack all week if they're to claw time back. We saw on windy stage 14 how effective they can be as a team but the lumpy terrain of the last week calls for a different strategy. Most likely they'll try and isolate Froome on the horrific-looking stage 19. There's two HC cols to start proceedings, followed by a Cat 2 and two Cat 1s, and the sawtooth profile is not dissimilar to stage 9 where Froome lost his whole team very early on. No-one put the knife in that day, but with a short summit finish stage and a procession to follow, Bourg s'Oisans to Le Grand Bornand is likely to be the last real chance for a shake-up.
With Valverde now over 14 minutes off the pace all Movistar's GC hopes are rested on the young shoulders of Nairo Quintana. The 23-year-old Colombian, with the best poker face in all of this year's Tour, has been the only one capable of getting close to Froome on the climbs that matter. He's wearing the white jersey again after stage 15, as the best young rider, but he's said that he doesn't want to choose between that and a podium place and he clearly thinks he's capable of both.
That would mean making up about an minute and a half on the GC; not out of the question since he took 1'11" and 1'17" out of Contador and Mollema respectively on the Ventoux. With two more summit finishes to come he'll fancy his chances of making more gains.
Quintana's time trial to Mont St Michel was pretty average; he finished 54th on the stage, 3'28" down on Tony Martin but, more importantly, more than a minute back from all of the GC contenders above him. He'll need to improve on Wednesday's stage where the ups will suit him but the downs maybe not so much.
Gavazzi carries water for the team (Astana website)
Jakob Fuglsang has been slowly but surely working his way up the GC, which has meant a happier second week for Astana who lost three riders in the first seven stages. Fuglsang now lies seventh, 6'22" down on Froome; realistically he's unlikely to rise much higher but it's a solid performance from the Dane, who was seventh to the top of the Ventoux yesterday. Francesco Gavazzi and Aleksey Lutsenko have been hunting for a stage win at times; Gasparotto might fancy a go tomorrow on the lumpy transitional stage to Gap.
If anyone was in any doubt as to whether Sagan would be able to keep the green jersey all the way to paris, that doubt has surely now evaporated. He snuck away in the break on the way to the Ventoux to snaffle the intermediate points yet again, and now has a 99-point lead on Mark Cavendish, his nearest rival, with only one sprint finish left in the race. Sagan raised the style bar for getting sucked back into the peloton to new heights yesterday, pulling a one-handed wheelie on the Ventoux as the pack gobbled him up. "I always said that cycling is passion and fun, both you practice and you watch it", said the Slovak "While I was waiting the group, people incited and clap their hands to me: I wanted to dedicate them the wheelie to thanks for their support".
Sagan just needs to stay out of trouble. Even so he'll probably fancy a crack on tomorrow's stage. If he can stay with the break over the two early climbs then he'll hoover up the intermediate points agin.
OPQS had a fine second week with wins for Cavendish and Trentin, although Kittel's win into Tours will have them worried. They will have one main aim for the final week: to get Mark Cavendish over the line first on the Champs Elysees, and normally you'd back him, but the big Argos-Shimano rider seems to have the legs on Cav in a straight sprint right now. The Manxman has never been beaten on the Tour's final day, nabbing the win on the last four visits to Paris. Cav's sprint train have had an on/off kind of a tour, but if one finish has been drilled into them then it'll surely be the last one. Cav knows it like the back of his hand.
Will Tony Martin be able to take another TT win on Wednesday? Probably not, as the up-down-up-down nature of the course won't suit him as much as the pan-flat Mont st Michel stage did, and he can expect to lose time to the superior climbers. Never say never though, he was second up the Ventoux last time the Tour went up it in 2009…
Rolland chases on stage 15 (Presse Sports, Europcar website)
The team in green had their sights set on Rolland in the polka-dots; everyone else was praying that they'd lose them so we didn't have to look at those shorts any more. He could still make it back to the top of the KOM standings but with two summit finishes still to come, and double points on offer at the top of them, Froome or Quintana are the most likely winners. Rolland took a lot out of himself trying to catch the break on the road to Ventoux, and faded away on the final climb. He's now half an hour and more down, which means he's no threat, so expect him to head off on stage 19 in search of all the points that day.
Mikel Nieve has show that he can mix it with the best climbers on this year's race, although his time trialling means he's not a GC threat. His best real hope is the polka dots; he's third in that classification behind Froome and Quintana, neither of whom will see it as their primary target. He's far enough back, at 18 minutes, to be allowed away on stage 19 to try and snatch some points on the break. There's plenty on offer; first over all the hills from Bourg d'Oisans to Le Grand Bornand would net you 75 points in that competition.
Any GC hopes for lotto effectively ended on stage 6 with the departure of Jurgen Van den Broeck. This week saw Greipel edged out by Kittel in St Malo so the big German has gone all week without a stage win. He'll be itching to get over the line first in Paris, but right now Marcel Kittel looks like the man to beat in a drag race. Adam Hansen hasn't figured in a break yet, so expect him to have a go this week.
Kittel takes the line ahead of Cavendish (Argos-Shimano website)
Argos-Shimano have as many wins as anyone at this year's Tour, and Kittel has them all, putting him top of the individual standings. Three stage wins is fantastic exposure for one of the smaller teams, but like Lotto-Belisol and Omega Pharma-Quicketsp they'll have their sights set on finishing their Tour de France off in style on the Champs Elysees. If it comes down to a straight sprint between the three main contenders, then Kittel looks to have the edge over both Greipel and Cavendish right now. Tom Dumoulin has been impressing too, with an excellent 9th in the Mont St Michel time trial.
BMC's fortunes haven't really improved from week one. Evans finished just outside the top 20 on the first individual time trial, with Van Garderen suffering again and rolling in 49th. The American went off in the break on stage 14 with teammate Marcus Burghardt, but Van Garderen faded towards the end after a few attacks; Burghardt went after Simon but both riders were caught before the line. On the slopes of the Ventoux Evans faded as Sky forced the pace and lost eight minutes, while Van Garderen finished in a group over 27 minutes down.
Andrew Talansky was a creditable 12th in the ITT to Mont St Michel, and managed a podium too from the break that stayed away into Lyon. Dan Martin will be pretty happy with his performance on stage 15, comfortably inside the top 20 although he lost time to some of the other GC hopefuls and now sits just outside the top ten. Garmin haven't been anywhere near as active in week two as they were at the start of the race, so they'll no doubt be hoping to mix things up again towards the end. Given their success in doing just that on stage 9, the similarly-profiled stage 19 will be a target.
Any lingering hopes for the ability of Andy Schleck to stay with the pace of the leaders evaporated yesterday, with the Luxembourger cracking in spectacular fashion halfway up the final climb and losing over 10 minutes. Jens Voigt has been belying his position as the elder statesman of the race and mixing it up on the break, and Jan Bakelants put up some good resistance on the Ventoux finishing 23rd. Other than that Radioshack-Leopard have been fairly anonymous in week two.
Joaquim Rodriguez has been in and out of the top ten this week, and after a fourth place on the Ventoux he's back up to eighth, his highest position in this year's race. He's unlikely to rise much higher, but there's a chance of a stage win on the shorter summit finish stage to Annecy-Semnoz, as he seems to have found his climbing legs. Alexander Kristoff continues his one-man-sprint-train with some success; he's been pretty consistent even though he hasn't managed to make it on to the podium since stage 1. He now lies fifth in the green jersey rankings. In fact, he's been fifth all week.
Trentin edges out Albasini in Lyon (Orica-GreenEDGE website)
Given the amount of success the first week brought Orica-GreenEDGE, week two was always going to be a lot quieter. Svein Tuft's sixth place in the individual time trial and Michael Albasini's second place in Lyon were their highlights; Tuft now holds the dubious honour of being lanterne rouge, two hours and 46 minutes off the pace. Daryl Impey continues to impress when given sprint duties, Matt Goss continues not to.
Thibault Pinot had a dreadful weekend when the race was in the Pyrenees, from which he never really recovered. His problem is descending, and his fear of going fast cost him half an hour over two stages. He's continued to slip and lost 19 minutes yesterday; he's now over an hour back. William Bonnet picked up a fifth place on stage 10 but that's been the highlight for them, really.
Vacansoleil-DCM have been trying, but not much has come off for them this week. The exception is the time trial, where Thomas de Gendt snapped up third place behind Tony Martin and Chris Froome. Danny van Poppel managed ninth in the St Malo sprint but he's now been pulled out of the race ahead of a week where he's not going to be doing much sprinting. Flecha will be eyeing up a break, as ever.
Jean-Christophe Péraud was a very creditable 10th on the Ventoux and also in the top 20 in the time trial last Wednesday, so it's not been a bad week for the Frenchman. Romain Bardet hasn't been doing too badly either, finishing 19th on yesterday's summit, and Arthur Vichot managed eighth place on stage 14. But it's been a fairly average tour for Ag2r.
Damiano Cunego hasn't been at the races, and nor has Przemyslaw Niemiec. Roberto Ferrari has managed a fifth place, so expect to hear a lot about that if you bump into anyone from the team. because there's not much else to talk about.
With the exception of a fifth place from Egoitz Garcia on stage 14, it's been another anonymous week for Cofidis. They'll be looking longingly towards Paris.
Sojasun are still racing, in case you were wondering. Okay, that's not entirely fair: Julien Simon gave it a decent go on Saturday and Lemoine managed a top 20 finish in St Malo. Slim pickings, though.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.