Stage 15 – Greipel takes three
I am starting to feel a bit sorry for the other sprinters. Kristoff and Degenkolb have nothing. Bouhanni got nothing and left. Coquard has had near misses. Sagan must be the finest almost winner in Tour history. Cav got one, messed up others, was expecting much more I am sure. At this rate he is never going get more Tour stage victories than Hinault. There is only one sprint stage left. To ride it, all the contestants must first go through tomorrow’s stage, the rest day, and three stages in the higher mountains. I hope they all make it. Greipel was really not supposed to win THREE stages. He has had an unquestionably excellent Tour. Sagan once again got in the break and took 20 points more for the green jersey. He only got 18 for finishing fourth today, so only 38 points. Greipel got 50 for the stage, and takes over the green jersey. Since Sagan is bound to sneak a few points on intermediate sprints that maybe Greipel can’t reach easily (say, over a hill), then it is most likely that whoever does really well on the Champs, will win the jersey. Nice ending. But since for a sprinter, winning on the Champs is the greatest treasure, all the sprinters are totally motivated anyway. Basically it is for Sagan to lose. He needs to win (or do better than Greipel) a few intermediate sprints and then hug the wheel of Greipel on the Champs. Pretty much over. Degenkolb and Cav are done. Maybe Cav got dropped today because his morale dropped, and he is simply taking it easy until Sunday.
We are pretty much where we were some time ago. Froome is 3+ minutes ahead of Tejay and Quintana, 4+ minutes ahead of Valverde, Contador and Thomas. Everyone else is 6 minutes behind or more. Obviously “something might happen” (a euphemism for anything bad and unexpected), but normally it is unlikely that any but the named riders have an outside chance to win the Tour. Normally. So either we have abnormal events or Froome wins the Tour. I suppose we could also wonder passionately if anyone will actually try to win the spotted jersey. I hope so, otherwise Froome will have BOTH of them at the end.
I am stunned that Tony Gallopin is still in the top ten. If he stays there after the Alps, the French will have something to be happy about, at last. Mind you, Barguil, Rolland and Bardet, while disappointing in many ways, are still in the top fifteen. If any of them attempt a big ride and succeed, they would vault into the top ten. If you are French you have better chances to be happy in the near future, than if you were an anti-Froome fan. Things is, pedalling, Froome is simply the strongest guy in the field. Hard not to give a little respect for that.
My optimistic self wants there to be attacks by anyone at all in the top six, every day, more than once. Froome, Thomas and Porte will have to follow them all. That could be interesting. But the problem is that maybe only Quintana can ride up a hill faster than both Froome and Thomas this year, this week. They seem able to follow anyone else in the top ten. Enough, no point is speculating about how I might have some exciting hours in front of the telly. They made a good route, ready for the riders to make it truly memorable. Exciting stuff maybe, high, pointy, rocky mountains.
As far as other items of interest, both my favourite and an outsider for the sprint stage, the guys I would have bet on, given the constraints of choice, got dropped. Cav and Demare. Zero today.
My visitors were here until after a delightful, long lunch at a wee local cafe. I might get back into total obsession with the Tour tomorrow, certainly by Wednesday, when it kicks off. Having said that, I do have some existing social obligations and things to do. The kale I have been nursing is doing well enough so far. And keeping up with Greece! Things keep happening in normal life of course, but these days it seems like things are happening more in places I hardly know anything about. Although I have read Nikos Kazantzakis and had two holidays in Greece. Don’t KNOW a single Greek person.