Stage 18 – Cocorico, Bardet
Now that was a rather entertaining couple of hours. More like that please. Admittedly in terms of explosions from the big Four or Five, we were a little less than satisfied. Not a perfect stage for bold attacks, but they did try to get rid of Froome, but once again, just could not do it. Contador made an effort. Quintana is waiting for the next two days. Nibali made an effort. Even Valverde did, but frankly they had no chance to dump Froome and the Sky lads who were left. Must say that Geraint Thomas should be allowed loose once in a while. Maybe now that Porte will leave for BMC next year, they can give him at least a couple of week long races for himself.
So, as most expected, there was a break, a rather large one. But ticking off each rider as they appeared, the Sky directors decided to let them go. Bardet was the only guy in the top ten, and even then some considerable time behind, so it was harmless. Mollema was up front guarding his place, but the break once again won the stage. Although I thought they would be caught when they reduced the gap to less than three minutes. But no luck. Mind you, none of the top guys were willing to risk a wild descent to move up one place, or cut a gap by one minute. Bardet on the other had, was going for gold. I should think we will now know him as a great descender from now on. We will suspect he might win any stage with a long tricky descent at the end.
One small note. I have been watching the climber Louis Meintjes, from the MTM team, first time in the Tour. He was picked by some as a possibility for a big “revelation”. Yesterday he finished last, on his own, “au courage” as they say around here. Not his Tour really, but don’t forget he was the fifth guy in the break that won in Bretagne, and he will appear again. He didn’t start today. Next year maybe.
That little climb that I have never heard of before, the Lacets de Montvernier is totally excellent looking. It is like something created on a basement sized cycling table, to look like some kind of archetype. I love it. Reminds me of the Stelvio. In case you missed it, others also agree. http://roadcyclinguk.com/racing/tour-de-france-2015-is-the-lacets-de-montvernier-the-most-beautiful-road-in-cycling.html?utm_campaign=newsletter_20150723&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter_rcuk#Mtdb3WBOKtK310I5.97
So in the end, we had the super descent of Bardet, and his victory. Rolland tried to catch him, but failed. And although the stage unfolded over a long period, with plenty of interest, not much happened in terms of the GC. Pretty much the same as before. The next two days “should” reveal more. The mountains jersey is still not a prize that anyone seems to be trying to win, as such. In that sense it is a competition with a bit of life left in it. The next two days we will see everyone who cares about it trying to get into the break. I have no idea who is going to take the jersey in the end. No idea at all. Although I can imagine a mano-a-mano with Bardet and J-Rod duking it out on some climb. My money is on J-Rod. I suppose Pauwels has a free hand, and maybe even Fuglsang might be set loose, or might try a break with Vincenzo.
Check out the gap between Sanchez and Pinot in 15th and 16th spot. 21 minutes! I wonder if that sets any records.
By the way, I missed the after stage show to take the cat to the vet. So I missed a few good stories.