Stage 17 hilly individual time trial
Surely one of the most exciting time trials the Tour has ever seen?
Stage winner Chris Froome using his road bike on the climb before decisively switching to his TT bike for the fast descent to the finish.
Climbs, descents, crashes, rain, dry roads, wet roads, fast corners, greasy corners – this really had it all. Going right to the wire with the stage result between Froome and the rest of the major contenders meant drama to the end. Froome changed bikes, Contador didn’t – what was best?? Then the rain came later on. Even non specialist time trial (TT) riders did well showing that relatively shorter hillier TT stages have no clear favourite as world TT champ Tony Martin finished outside the top 10.
And spare a thought for unfortunate Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) who crashed in the morning recceing the stage fracturing his collar bone. He wanted to carry on for today at least as he was the highest placed French rider on GC. Then he crashed again on the same shoulder about 2km from the finish and this time he knew it was over immediately. His family had travelled to see him in the race and where were they stood, yep, right on the corner he crashed so at least his wife was able to jump the barriers and comfort him this time.
Alp d’Huez twice.
Australian Adam Hansen taking on liquids on Dutch Corner.
This is probably the most iconic climb in cycling and for the Tour to ride up it twice in the same day is a first and one to savour. The riders might not have liked it but we the fans certainly did and hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the climb to catch a glimpse of the race. There’s a party atmosphere like no other on this climb and many corners were taken over by nations as fans gathered days in advance to cheer their riders. The roads were so packed that riders had difficulty seeing where the road went as spectators moved aside at barley the last moment. This helped people to pass beer to some of the back markers who were happy for a spot of refreshment on the stage.
Richie Porte – the Ultimate Wingman
They say behind every great man is a great woman but in Chris Froome’s case it is his team mate and friend Richie Porte. The Tasmanian climber has been selflessly supporting Froome throughout the mountain stages and it’s clear to see there’s a very friendly bond between these guys. Porte is such a talent in his own right and will surely get a chance to lead the team in a three week tour soon enough. Bit of a pattern that at Team Sky.
The return of the Colombian climbers
When Movistar rider and revelation of the 2013 Tour Nairo Quintana won the 20th stage it sparked memories of the legendary Colombian climbers of old. During the 1980’s, the Cafe de Colombia squad regularly won stages and just like Quintana, the polka dot jersey.
Some people say they look ungainly when they climb but boy are they effective. They are so small and light and just seemingly dance about on the bike making climbing look simple. Back in the day some wit said they rode ungainly as this made it harder for people to shoot them when they were riding in the mountains back home in Colombia!
What must it feel like to see the Eiffel Tower knowing you’re going to finish a Tour de France?
Very few riders will ever be privileged enough to ride a Tour de France slightly less to actually finish one. After three weeks of pain and suffering what must it be like to reach Paris and finally see the Eiffel Tower knowing that it’s nearly over.
The relief must be incredible but the excitement of the many laps up and down the Champs Elysees in a somewhat parade finish surely must take over. That and knowing that you can have one hell of a party in a few hours time to celebrate as well.
Spare a thought for Dutchman Lieuwe Westra(Vacansoleil-DCM) who abandoned with just 39km to go due to a chest infection…
And the biggest question for us now is what are we going to do when we get home from work each night with no cycling to watch?
And of course we couldn’t finish without saying well done to Chris Froome!