Geraint Thomas did at the top of Alpe d’Huez what no other Brit had done before, indeed no rider of any nationality had done while wearing the yellow jersey, on a road stage.
Winning the mountain top finish on stage 17 of this year’s Tour de France was probably the biggest and best victory of Geraint Thomas’ road career, winning atop Alpe d’Huez 24 hours later definitely is. Hell it was one of the best wins for any British rider on the Tour, ever.
No Brit has won on the Alpe, while no one whose records haven’t been wiped by the Tour as done so wearing the yellow jersey. G taking that prize along with the stage win the day before.
It all left the Welshman “speechless” as he put it himself, after an amazing ride that saw his Sky teammates regain the yellow jersey from the man who had the virtual lead on the road by some distance, Kruijswijk. The Dutchman had just over 4 minutes at the bottom of the final climb on a brutal day after a long solo attack from the breakaway.
Sky’s young Colombian, youngest rider in the race, Egan Bernal slowly brought that back along with the attacks from the likes of Quintana, who again showed he doesn’t like getting his nose in the wind and is broken every time his attacks are brought back with ease. When Bernal finally had nothing more to give it was telling that Thomas led Froome up the climb.
Bardet attacked and Froome set off after him, cracking bit of TV director work as they chose to change camera at that moment. With Froome came Nibali but as Froome was slowed in his pursuit by a pinch point, where the crowd had closed in, by the motorbikes Nibali was taken out by a strap from a fan’s camera. He looked in great pain on the floor as he was lifted back onto his bike, somehow at the end he was closing in on the leaders finishing just 13 seconds behind Thomas, a fact made even more amazing by the fact he then had to abandon the race after it was confirmed that the crash had broken a vertebrae in his back.
It was going to happen to someone, just amazing it wasn’t to a Sky rider, who were jeered all the way up the climb, over the line and on the podium. Not only that but were spat at, and in Froome’s case punched and almost shoved off. One dozy old berk subsequently arrested for the punch.
The French have to take a long hard look at themselves, UCI president David Lappartient, TdF director Christian Prudhomme and Bernard Henault especially, the latter two always nice to Froome’s face but quick to stir it behind his back – the three have stirred up trouble for Sky even more this year. Can you imagine this happening in Britain, at the Tour de Yorkshire or the Tour of Britain? No. And if it did ASO and the UCI would be straight down on them, probably pulling the ASO ran Yorkshire race.
Prudhomme also has to look at himself and the way that he’s tried to create a Sky/Froome busting course, which has completely destroyed the sprint competition for the final half of the race, as one by one they big sprinting names were either kicked off for coming in outside the time limit of climbed off the bikes themselves.
The other ones that have to look at themselves are ITV. Are they deliberately down playing the incidents on the road, or are they just incompetent? As Froome was about to be shoved in full view of everyone, Ned Boulting just kept wittering on about what he was wittering on about – does anyone really listen to his little anecdotes, that only he seems to find funny? He’s sat a couple of feet away from a huge screen and yet either completely missed it or chose to ignore it. Along with the booing and something being thrown over Egan Bernal. He was quick to tell us there was a big police presence, yet at all the main incidents there was none to be seen.
But then listen to them and they spend all day talking up every other rider.
G amazingly rode over Nibali’s wheel in the incident and survived. This isn’t your usual Geraint Thomas, he’s missed all the bad luck so far, crashes on the first day, crashes on the cobbles, punctures on the cobbles and on the gravel.
And as the five big GC contenders came up the final kilometre you wonder if it was G’s track craft that mean in the sprint round the final bend, while the rest took the short line, tight on the inside, he took the wide sweep to keep his speed and power home, opening up a gap on the road to take just a few more seconds on all his rivals.
First Brit to win on Alpe d’Huez, first to do it wearing yellow, only the third rider, ever, to win back to back mountain top finishes… speechless. But “still riding for Frommey…”