Le Tour de France 2016 – Stage 19; Albertville – Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc. Bardet Saves the Tour for France
We chose the wrong mountain - but little did we know there'd be a big rain storm on the last climb to give the race the jolt it's been requiring for three weeks.
A great day for Bardet and AG2R.
A good day for Quintana, Mentjies and Martin.
A bad day for Mollema, Yates, Dumoulin, Rolland and Navarro - the latter three all crash victims.
And Froome and Porte have had better days. . .
We holed up at the top of the HC Montee de Bisanne but it hadn't really kicked off there, it all went mad on the decent off 'our' mountain when the rains came down and the crashes gave the GC a right good shake up.
Froome came down and is it just me or did he not look his usual self on the final climb?
We'll find out today.
The soigneurs were in position when we got to the top of the Col, texting the team cars for an update.
The Tinkoff team car bullied it's way into a parking space but when the hot under the collar spectators discovered it was Ivan Basso causing the fuss all was molto bene!
Majka was first up of the breakaway, in pursuit of even more points in the King of the Mountains contest - after the time trial stage he had almost double De Gendt's points total; it'll be even more of a gap now after he took full points on the Bisanne.
We've just bought l'Equipe and pre Stage 20 he's on 209 to De Gendt's 105 points and is the race' number one 'baroudeur' with 637 kilometres spent 'up the road.'
The light was going fast as the peloton rolled past - there were some serious faces in there.
Van Avermaet had been in the break but was off the back of the peloton when he passed us.
He'd get back on the descent and later in the day do good work for Porte.
Tommy Voeckler was pulling faces, as ever but no longer has the legs to support the facial contortions.
We're thinking Simon Geschke is spending too much time in the barber's shop - or maybe we're just jealous.
Either way - he was dropped!
It was another 'beardy' next, Cofidis lead out man, Geoffrey Soupe in the company of Adam Hansen.
Our big chum from the time trial, Navardauskas clearly wasn't enjoying the stage and was making sure he'd be warm on the decent.
Sagan was 'caping up' too but in his usual way didn't look up nor down despite having just climbed an HC mountain.
Going into Stage 20 he has 425 to Kittel's 228 points - so, barring accident, Tinkoff take home two jerseys.
Martin and I once followed French Champion Arthur Vichot [the ITT in Embrun in 2013] - and can tell you that his bike handling is as sharp as his appearance.
Sep Vanmarcke is a man of the cross winds and cobbles - not the cols.
Meanwhile, Steve Cummings was in his usual tail gunner position - this stage is just a wee bit too much even for his considerable talent.
Stone last - but he did make the time cut @ 35:39 - was Dan McLay, dragging that big frame of his over the worst the Alpes can offer.
He's not last on GC, that's Sam Bennett @ 4:46:58; Dan is fifth last @ 4:42:24 - If he can get through today and get a good lead out on the Champs Elysees...
We're on the parcours of Stage 20, on the run in to the Col des Aravis but en route the Joux Plane the final climb of the 2016 Tour de France.
In around five hours it'll be all over...
But mean times, it's time for a kir...