It’s been the most unpredictable and engaging of Tours and yesterday followed this. I switched on early for the category 1 climb of Roselend only to be informed because of hailstorms the race was to be abandoned for the second stage running.
It’s a difficult decision for the race organisers who have to balance the safety of the riders, the expectations of the spectators, the integrity of the race but the first consideration must be safety.
It leaves a tricky resolution of the General classement. Much to my surprise in switching on Radio 5 later there was report on the stage from the reliable Simon Brotherton.
It had not been abandoned after all, but shortened. It was won by Vincenzo Nibali a favorite for the polka dot climbing jersey but in what will be a historic moment Geraint Thomas ushered Egan Bernal through, his team-mate and inevitable winner – to the extent anything is inevitable in this Tour.
This was Sky – now Ineos – and might be compared to Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson with Manchester City’s money.
They are not everybody’s cup of tea.
A friend of mine who is deeply knowledgeable on cycling detests them for having no soul and, when we watched a stage in the Pyrenees last weekend, was enthusiastically cheering on Julian Alaphilippe.
Cycling is a strange sport as it’s both collective – loyalty to one’s team – and individual. The other members of the team known as domestiques are expected to support the team leader.
Brailsford signed up Bernal on a 5 year contract and he will become doubtless the team leader, so where does this leave Froome and Thomas now well into their 30s? Alaphilippe has won stages before – two last year- but lacks the dynamic support of the Ineos team.
Krauskijk and Buchmann ran good races to finish well up the GC and worth noting for the future. Thibaut Pinot looks a terrific climber.
But it is the 22 year old Columbian Bernal who will surely emerge with the laurels on the Champs Elysees today. The first Colombian to do so.