To paraphrase the late, great Donna Summer; ‘they work hard for the money.’
Those Sky boys.
Perhaps Henao had a few mountain days where Sir David and Le Chien Froomey didn’t think the Columbian did enough graft – he made up for it on Stage 19 though, riding tempo remorselessly on the front of the peloton.
Damn hard work?
And whilst it would be wrong to say that Edvald Boasson-Hagen is ‘back from the dead’ a la Barguil it’s certainly his biggest win since the GP Plouay in 2012; sure there have been stage wins in the likes of the Algarve, Dauphine, Denmark. Eneco, Fjords, Norway and Tirreno but his last Tour stage win was 2011, the same years as he won the HEW Classic in Hamburg.
But as a wise man once said; ‘The Tour is the Tour!’ and after two second places and two third places he’s due the win – and did it in great style, not waiting for the sprint, going solo and winning in solitary splendour.
He had this to say;
“This is fantastic. The team helped me a lot before the break went away. They controlled the peloton and on the climb, I was in a good position to follow the attacks.
“Within the front group, we worked really well together all day. Naturally, at the end, there were some attacks but I managed to close them down a ride quite smartly.
“I had studied the course and I knew I had to go right in that last roundabout.
“Afterwards, I managed to go solo and I was so happy when I crossed the line. I’ve been so close so many times. It’s really nice to finally get this victory for the team and for myself as well.”
Dimension Data’s Tour duly saved after the Cavicide and Big Steve Cummings not being quite at his best.
Dimension Data’s South African Team Boss, Doug Ryder’s face as he looked at his Norwegian rider after the finish said it all; ‘I love you Edvald!’
Orica’s lack lustre Tour continues; despite having top rouleurs Albasini and Keukeleire in the move which Boasson-Hagen won from they could do no better than third.
However, if Yates hangs on to white – as looks inevitable – then they can claim a successful Tour.
Wanty has been missing in action from these late mountain and hilly stages – all that early aggression catching up with them.
Meanwhile Thomas De Gendt’s (Lotto & Belgium) kilometres in breakaway now total 1,280 – according to his figures – remarkable in a race where some entire teams have been on the attack less.
His big goal is to be awarded the ‘super combatif’ prize for the Tour’s overall most aggressive rider – Louis Mentjies won’t trouble him, we reckon the South African hasn’t reached one kilometre on the front yet, never mind one thousand.
When I was a lad, the Tour used to finish with a time trial on to the Velodrome Municipale de Vincennes, Paris, the ‘Cipale’ as it was known but stadium finishes in Grand Tours are something of a rarity now.
This stage starts and finishes in the ‘Orange Velodrome’ home of Olympique Marseille football club.
It’s not the original Marseille velodrome, where again, back in my youth Hugh Porter took his third world pursuit title in 1972 beating former hour record holder, Ferdi Bracke of Belgium.
And before that on July 12th 1967 Tommy Simpson crossed a finish line for the last time in his life, taking seventh place behind Raymond Riotte in Stage 12 of Le Tour.
The next day was the stage over the Ventoux – rest in peace, Tommy.
That historic track was demolished to make way for the new stadium.
Unlike the ‘bad old days’ where the GC guys would dominate the final TT because they had the best stocked fridges it’s liable to be a specialist who’s been hiding in the peloton these last few days although the usual form book goes out the window because so many are ‘running on empty’ after three weeks of racing.
Taylor Phinney (Cannondale & USA) is off early, he was 12th in Stage One and used to be one of the best TT riders in the world,
Britain’s Steve Cummings was hiding all day yesterday; don’t forget the Dimension Data man could ride a 60 kph team pursuit and may well get into the ‘hot seat.’
‘The Bison’ – he used to have a great paint job on his Cannondale – Poland’s Maciej Bodnar is bestially strong for Bora-hansgrohe and may just have a say.
German World TT Champion, Tony Martin has been quiet too and could possible save Katusha’s horribly anonymous Tour.
Primoz Roglic (LottoNL & Slovenia) is a known quantity against the watch too.
Former world pursuit champion and runner-up to Thomas in Stage one – big, strong BMC Suisse Stefan Kung; but like we said earlier, he may be on his knees…
Did someone say ‘Kiry’?
Come on – he’s been on the front for three weeks!
Let’s give The Organisation the last word on this final meaningful stage:
“Three riders are in contention for the overall victory: Chris Froome, Romain Bardet and Rigoberto Uran are separated by less than thirty seconds ahead of the 22.5km individual time trial in the streets of Marseille.
“Suspense is high!
“Froome is the favourite. But once upon a time, Uran could race amazingly against the clock and Bardet is extremely motivated.”
We say; Kung the stage, Froome hangs on but Uran takes it close with Bardet third.
But don’t bet the house on it…