The preponderance of mountains in the final week gave an unfoar advantage to les grimpeurs (climbers) but still produced one of the most exciting Tours in years. Chris Froome went into yesterday’s stage defending a 2′ 38″ lead and knowing the Columbian Nauri Quintana must attack him on Alpe d’Huez. This led to an enthralling battle as Froome and his teammates Porte and Woulis held Quintana off to preserve a 72 second lead. The final stage to day should be a ceremonial procession to crown the Dauphin as it’s flat all the way.
I take my hat off to Froome who has had to endure spittle, urine and endless negative speculation. He is too large in the saddle to be as elegant and as exciting as Quintana and tends to ride looking dourly down at his pedals. Yet he will be a two-time winner in three years. Much credit too must go to Sir Dave Brailsford clearly a brilliant coach who has raised the profile of British cycling both at the Olympics and now the greatest race of all.
It’s sad to see the damage Lance Armstong has done to our sport. His aggressive denial of doping even to the point that those cyclists that questioned his achievement were hounded in the peleton has had the consequence that noone is trusted any more. Froome suffers as a result. As someone recovering from severe cancer Armstrong could have been an inspiration to so many instead of a ruthless amoral cheat. Even now you rather wish he would shut up and take his punishment. It must be emphasised that Froome has never failed a test and the one he missed was due to mistake by the hotel.
Five years his junior, Quintana will surely have his day in the sun though unlikely to ride a Tour again so suited to his climbing talents. Nibali was as I thought good enough to beat one but not three of the Fab Four whilst for Alberto Contador who won the Giro it proved a Tour too far. I’m sure I will be hearing from John Pargiter after I had advised hin to back Froome as King of the Mountains at 10-1.