It was a long day for VeloVeritas, yesterday. But it was a cracker – positioned 800 metres from the line on Mont Ventoux, we were there from when Froome spun past like a madman on rollers until Jonathan Hivert ground past us, oh so painfully, some 50 minutes later.
We’ll spare you the waxing lyrical about Provence, lavender fields, cicadas and also the stats about the mountain and who’s won there in the past and give you our thoughts on some of the men of the day.
Christopher Froome: was first up and with the highest of cadences and the skinniest of arms he’s an unlikely strong man – but he’s been our favourite from the start.
The fact is that there’s no one in this race who wants to win to win it more than he does.
I think that there’s little doubt that he will win – and he’ll be aided by the fact that Belkin will now be in defensive mode, trying desperately to hang on to their second spot and combining with Froome against Contador.
Nairo Quintana: is a one of the few real climbers in the peloton – it’s one thing to be up there in a mountain stage by getting in the early break and hanging on but quite another to attack the maillot jaune group on the Ventoux.
He has grinta, ambition and a great team around him – the podium is possible.
Joaquim Rodriguez: can never win the Tour – the Giro, yes; the Vuelta, yes; but never the Tour.
To list him among the favourites is just not realistic – and I don’t know if he has a stage win in him, either.
But anyone who’s in the big ring with 800 metres to go on the Ventoux demands respect.
Michael Rogers: when Rogers renaissance 2012 with Sky seemed to have stalled when he went to Saxo we were a tad suspicious – and why did he leave in the first place?
He was one of Wiggo’s key players in 2012 – and it was a surprise to see him let go.
The man himself says it was because he received a better offer from Denmark – but there could be other reasons…
Whatever the case, he’s back to form and doing a job for Alberto; it was he who prompted the ambush on Friday where Froome lost a minute.
He looked good on the Ventoux and he’s probably huddled with Contador and Riis as I write this, planning ‘Ambush 11.’
Alejandro Valverde: isn’t universally popular with us self righteous Anglos – to be a proper ‘good doper’ you have to confess your sins then become a disciple of Saint Jonathan of Garmilee.
(And then you can write a training book – like Tom Danielson).
But the fact is that the Spaniard was caught on the same hamster wheel as all the rest – we look at it that he’s done his time, the UCi will be watching him like a hawk and let’s move on.
It was ‘wrong time, wrong place’ for him on Friday but there’s a stage win in him, we think and he looked good on the Ventoux.
Richie Porte: is a quality rider and there’s much talk about him becoming a Grand Tour contender – but being the reliable, strong lieutenant is one thing; taking all of that pressure is another.