The riders of the Tour de France are taking a well-deserved rest day in Andorra Monday after what has been a mostly hot, sometimes wild first week. Let’s look back on what has transpired so far.
First, here’s the top-10 and the jerseys.
1) Chris Froome (Great Britain/Sky) 44:36:03
2) Adam Yates (Great Britain/Orica-BikeExchange) +0:16
3) Dan Martin (Ireland/Etixx-QuickStep) +0:19
4) Nairo Quintana (Colombia/Movistar) +0:23
5) Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain/Katusha) +0:37
6) Romain Bardet (France/AG2R) +0:44
7) Bauke Mollema (The Netherlands/Trek-Segafredo) s.t.
8) Sergio Henao (Colombia/Sky) s.t.
9) Louis Meintjes (South Africa/Lampre) +0:55
10) Alejandro Valverde (Spain/Movistar) +1:01
116) Antoine Duchesne (Canada/Direct Energie) 1:37:19
Green Points Jersey: Mark Cavendish (Great Britain/Dimension Data)
Polka Dot Climbers Jersey: Thibaut Pinot (France/FDJ)
White Young Riders Jersey: Adam Yates
Team Competition: Movistar
After Brexit and Team England’s early Euro 2016 exit, the Brits needed good news. How about UK riders winning five of the first nine stages of the Tour de France and holding three of the four jerseys at the first rest day to cheer you up?
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Mark Cavendish‘s hat trick of victories now puts him in second place in the stage wins list after Eddy Merckx.
It’s getting so I now expect Steve Cummings (Data Dimension) to take a stage win in every race he’s in; he’s a craftsman.
Although Adam Yates was considered one to watch at the start of the race, he has turned out to be one of the revelations of the 103rd edition. He has been in the mix every time the Big Dogs clash, sits second wearing the white jersey, and survived one of the weirdest incidents of the modern Tour.
— spor güzeldir (@Spor_Guzeldir) July 9, 2016
Another revelation is Fortuneo-Vital Concept’s Dan Mclay, a New Zealand-born British sprinter who has finished in the top-10 four times.
Froome Well Positioned: Sky’s ace stayed out of trouble on the tricky finishes of Stages 2, 5 and 7 before his audacious downhill attack on Stage 8 to Luchon gave him yellow. Sunday he defended instead of extending his lead on Arcalis while riders like Martin and Mollema attacked him. All the while, Quintana stayed on Froome’s wheel keeping his cards close to his chest.
Sky has bossed the peloton like it usually does, and instead of Mikel Landa or Geraint Thomas being his final lieutenant, it has been Sergio Henao, who looks well posed for a top-10 in Paris.
But there’s still a lot of racing to do. When will Quintana attack? On Ventoux with a time trial 24-later? Not until the Swiss Alps? Can the other contenders take advantage of Froome’s concentration on his Colombian rival?
Eliminated Favourites: In my preview of contenders I listed 18 riders who could either win the race or stand on the Paris podium. The cyclists below won’t do either.
Alberto Contador (Spain/Tinkoff) was snake-bitten right from Stage 1 when he crashed, hurting his right shoulder. The next day he fell on it again and he continued to bleed time. Finally, on Stage 9, after a defiant little move with Alejandro Valverde even though the two-time Tour winner was ill, Contador retired from the race.
Thibaut Pinot (France/FDJ) is only one of four Frenchmen who will now be fighting only for stage wins, top-10 positions or, in Pinot’s case, other jerseys besides yellow. Giant-Alpecin rider Warren Barguil’s attacks seem to have sapped him later in stages, Pierre Rolland of Cannondale-Drapac’s crashes have put him four-minutes in arrears, and Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) suffered two brutal days in the Pyrenees after looking sharp in the first six stages. Romain Bardet is the last Frenchman standing.
Pinot looks to be in a dingdong battle with Rafal Majka for the polka dot jersey as a way of salvaging his Tour. Maybe this is his role in the Tour instead of a strictly GC man–the new Richard Virenque.
After Contador, Richie Porte (Australia/BMC) has had the most misfortune in this race, flatting near the finish of Stage 2 to lose two-minutes. He has been one of the sharpest GC men since that sad incident. American teammate Tejay Van Garderen is still a minute better but Porte could be eclipse him in week two.
Fabio Aru (Italy/Astana) Of all the favourites, Aru is the least buried at +1:23. He hasn’t shown any kind of elan like Bauke Mollema, Dan Martin or Adam Yates…yet.
A New Tour Record Thankfully, the first week wasn’t marked by the usual huge crashes that force two or three riders off their bikes. Even though Contador and Michael Morkov (Denmark/Katusha) were hurt in early wrecks, they soldiered on, and Morkov became the first to climb off his bike on Friday’s Stage 8. Even after Stage 9’s nasty offerings of heat, steep clambers and torrential rain, only five fellows have gone home.
The Week Ahead: The KOM tussle will continue straight away on Tuesday as Stage 10’s parcours begins with a Cat. 1 climb that peaks back in France. However, Stages 10 and 11 in the south of France will belong to the fast men, with Andre Greipel desperate to get in on the win fun that Cavendish, Sagan and Marcel Kittel have enjoyed.
Thursday and Friday are the big days of the week, with the aforementioned Ventoux and time trial battles looming. It’s likely that whatever time Froome might lose on Ventoux will be more than made up for in the rolling 37.5-km chrono.
Sunday’s 15th stage can’t be discounted: it hurls six categorized climbs at the riders in 160-km, including an HC and Cat. 1 in the final 60-km, the Cat. 1 Lacets du Grand Colombier peaking 14-km from the finish town of Culoz.