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Le Tour de France 2016 – Stage 18; Sallanches – Megève ITT. Froome Dispels any Doubt

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Mont-Saint-MichelIf anyone harboured any doubts about the fact that Froome was going to win this Tour it took him just 30 minutes to straighten things out.

He destroyed everyone in including the man who’s probably the world’s number one ‘chronoman’ – Tom Dumoulin.

Whilst the mountains may be beautiful, a time trial up one is a daunting prospect.

But riders like Keisse and Hayman just have to ‘get on with it’ riding stages way outside their comfort zones.

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Chris Froome. Photo©Ed Hood

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Iljo Keisse. Photo©Ed Hood

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Matt Hayman. Photo©Ed Hood

We got ourselves set up to follow big Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas in the time test and duly lined up behind the Cannondale car.

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Ramunas Navardauskas. Photo©Ed Hood

‎The course was beautiful – but savage with varying gradients, fast bits, some real killer ramps and a descent to close.

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Fancy one of these cardboard hands around your face when you’re racing? Photo©Ed Hood

The fans were enthusiastic but causing no danger to our boy – however, as the afternoon wears on and the alcohol kicks in under that hot sun…

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Wood Bike. Not sure why. Photo©Ed Hood

And you have to wonder what possesses some of them to come up with the stuff they do – like this gentleman and his wooden bike…

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Ramunas heads to the start. Photo©Ed Hood

The Cannondale car was good to us, giving up plenty of opportunities to come up and photograph their boy.

You’re not supposed to come level with the rider – and you never want any hassle with the commissars so best behave! ‎

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Ramunas is a class act. Photo©Ed Hood

Our boy was smooth and sweet on the climb but even his big, solid shoulders were rocking on the horrible ramp at the top.

After our excursion round the course we headed back into town to have a skek at what was happening around the busses where up and coming French star, Julian Alaphilippe was warming up.

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Tom Dumoulin warms up and keeps cool. Photo©Ed Hood

‎On a day like today – HOT! – the riders have to careful not to boil u‎p on the warm up and all sorts of strategies are employed; ‘Big Tom’ used a couple of fans to keep him chilled.

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Town bike by Canyon. Photo©Ed Hood

And if you win the lottery, one of these 11 speed, belt drive Cayons would do nicely, thank you.

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Tom Dumoulin on a mission. Photo©Ed Hood

Time to head up the hill, where I just missed Dumoulin charging up the climb on that unforgiving time trial machine.

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Peter Stetina. Photo©Ed Hood

Good to see Peter Stetina back in action after his horror crash in Spain last year.

His legs still bear testament to his injuries – all lumps and bumps.

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Vincenzo Nibali. Photo©Ed Hood

He may be a mega star and former Tour winner but he’s not riding this Tour like one.

And what of rear discs?

Does the aero advantage offset the additional weight to lug up that mountain? ‎

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Rafa Majka. Photo©Ed Hood

Was looking even spottier than he should with the dappled sunlight through the trees.

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Ilnur Zakarin. Photo©Ed Hood

Stage winner, Zakarin is just SO skinny – but to win in modern Tours that’s how you have be.

At this point my Nikon died and I had to route march back to the car to get my spare battery.

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Romain Barnet. Photo©Ed Hood

There wasn’t time to get back down to the sunny meadow where Callum was snapping away so I sat myself down at the top of Rue Bernard Hinault with my first client being ‘Bardet’ who rode well on the day and will still harbour podium dreams.

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Nairo Quintana. Photo©Ed Hood

The little Colombian was next – just no the same man as last year.

Perhaps he’ll make the podium but it’s unlikely, Mollema and Yates will fight him tooth and nail.

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Adam Yates. Photo©Ed Hood

We perhaps expected more from him on this day but he retains third spot – I’m not sure a TT bike was the best choice on the day but…

His time at our checkpoint was good – but this was a course where pace judgement was vital, Sean Yates, DS with Tinkoff said; ‎

“The course had a bit of everything really.

“Some very steep climbs and also descents, and pacing was key, but by the end of the day, the strongest will take the stage on a parcours like this.”‎ ‎

‎If anyone know what they’re talking about then it’s Yates.

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Bauka Mollema Photo©Ed Hood

This wasn’t really Mollema’s ‘thing’ – battling it out shoulder to shoulder is one thing, time tests are another.

He lost a second or two to Yates so he’d be happy with his day.

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Chris Froome shows who’s boss. Photo©Ed Hood

There’s little left to say about Froome – best climber, best descender and now best tester.

The Vuelta will be a good race…

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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