in the Tour de France.
The organisers wanted a different Tour this year, not the Sky procession, well apart from the procession of Sky wearing yellow, they got something different.
Well they started off probably not wanting Sky to pick up the yellow jersey from the very off. No one expected the G victory in Dusseldorf. In fact wasn’t that the point of whole opening going through all the borders, with all those anthems – the EU one… really – especially heading through Schengen, a response to Brexit, for Brits to wear yellow the whole time was funny.
Great ride by G, well from the few yards we saw as French telly concentrated on pretty much everyone else. To take his first stage win and to take yellow.
The organisers probably didn’t expect all that rain either, you didn’t get that in Yorkshire. You do always expect crashes in the first week. Luckily the main one Sky was in didn’t have a disastrous consequence.
You always expect a bit of argy-bargy in the sprints but I don’t suppose they expected to have the World Champion, green jersey favourite, Peter Sagan thrown out of the race. Just four stages in and one day after he produced one of the most amazing stage victories. Staring down his competitors who were all puffing away, while he was breathing normally for him to then unclip his foot and in the blink of an eye reclip and win with ease was outstanding.
A day later and he’s taking Cav out which ended up finishing both their races. Cav with a busted shoulder blade and Sagan, after being initially demoted and deducted green jersey points by the race jury, kicked out by same jury after a change of mind. Harsh on Sagan? After all didn’t the actual winner of that stage endanger his fellow riders with some lane changing.
Though to kick the World Champion and French champion out on one stage would be something. They won’t have to bother about the latter now though, after coming in a bit inside the cut off time on stage 8, Arnaud Démare set off on stage 9 as if he had no intention of even trying to do that.
Stage 9. The Queen Stage. The stage to whittle down the GC, well it also whittled down the peloton. Dan Martin said after that
I guess the organisers got what they wanted. Well, heat of the moment and all but I don’t think they expected, or wanted that carnage.
They did want the excitement. The excitement of a non-mountain top finish. The excitement of the main GC contenders not just waiting and waiting and waiting on that final climb. The final climb of seven. With those descents. The excitement of AG2R and Bardet livening things up.
G, again unlucky in a grand tour this year, in such similar circumstances. Both at the Giro and at the Tour he was lying second on GC, looking good, when taken out by situations out of his control and both times crashing on stage 9. Both times with a 9 on his back. This time taken out by Majka falling in front of him on the descent of the first of three Hors catégorie, Col de la Biche. Both times he somehow rode on, with the broken collar bone here, to the bottom. Riding not for himself but to stay in the race to help Froome.
The final climb saw Froome attacked, from all quarters. Firstly when he suffered a mechanical on the final climb, the Mont du Chat. Aru says he didn’t see Froome’s hand go up but he seemed to go under it as he attacked right at that point. Quintana unsurprisingly went with him. Well it made a change for the Colombian, who seemed to spend a large amount of time either hanging behind his team car or hanging on it. It wasn’t a shock to see him attack the yellow jersey in such circumstances, quite funny to see him blown away later on the climb. Lost without Valverde, he has the ready made excuse of the Giro to fall back on.
Froome has to thank his old mate Richie Porte for stopping the attack against the unwritten rule. The rest all attacked Froome and he saw them off one by one. He won’t have the from Porte after Porte’s crash on the descent of Chat.
That was a horror show but something I’d wondered about after Porte’s comments following his showing in the opening time trial. He said the wet roads had left him petrified before he even set off. Had the rain and all the talk of the danger of this descent, that you feel had been talked up an awful lot, got in his head, even though he’d done it just a few weeks back in the Dauphine?
Dan Martin was lucky to get up from Porte completely taking him out. The Irishman in the process knocked the bike of Rigoberto Uran causing damage to his gears leaving the Colombian with just two to chose from. With which he somehow managed to win the stage, finally announced after the French telly had given the victory to local favourite Warren Barguil. A photo finish after that stage is something else, the photo more conclusive than anything they released for stage 7, still thing Boasson Hagen was done there.
With Froome third, taking 4 bonus seconds it meant after all the attacking from Aru and Bardet the Sky rider extended his lead in the GC. It’s not a big lead and he’s got a big loss to get over with no Thomas as a good one two punch with the Welshman second in GC.
Aru and Bardet were my favourites to be Froome’s biggest worries. Dan Martin has been talked up but I felt he hasn’t got three weeks of it in him and he was struggling a bit there before the crashes. Quintana as said did the Giro to get his excuses in and without Valverde has no one to hang onto the shoulder of, if he can’t hang on to Froome. Aru is fresh and not scared of just going for it, Bardet has last year’s result in his bag and is a daemon going downhill and there’s a bit of that involved this year.
So far it’s been a cracking race and there’s still two weeks to go…