Stage 19 – Bardet does it
Pretty good stage today. They wandered around the same area they have been in for two days. Looking for hills to climb. They doubled back twice, nice map of the stage they invented. I looked up the very first climb of the day, Col de Chaussy, in my 2009 atlas of France. It was clear, there was no road after the top of the climb. And yet, 6 years later it was newly paved and ready for racing. I can see how they find new roads every year, partly because the French are not only keeping up the old roads to a degree only a cyclist can appreciate, but they are making new surfaces on old roads. Very impressive. I think that in terms of attacks per kilometre, that first climb must be close to number one. Very much pleasure watching before I nipped off for my nap. What are the biggest surprises today? The biggest was the complete failure of Geraint Thomas. No idea exactly why, but he dropped from a quite enchanting fourth place to 15th having lost 22 minutes and riding in with a group containing, Sagan, Uran, Hesjedal, Rodriguez and an impressive list of riders. If there is any day when he is needed, it will be tomorrow. Hope he is well enough to help out. The stage winner is a slight surprise, but a welcome one. Great to see Nibali attack from a bit of a distance and keep it together for the victory. Rolland attacked from even further out, but simply didn’t have the legs, although the idea was not that bad. Second again must be disappointing. I must admit I don’t like the guy much, partly because he is constantly making faces, as if he is the only guy on earth suffering. Must have learned it from Voeckler, whom he idolises. Nibali has not saved his Tour, but he has gone some way toward it. He has one day to pick up 1.19 on Valverde and he can make the podium. That would, unless something happens, make the pre-race predictions of the Big Four almost accurate in the end. Three of the four on the podium. It won’t tell the full story though, not really a weeks long to and fro battle really. Rodriguez began with aims to earn the spotted jersey, but failed exactly as did Thomas. In the end, a wee surprise that Bardet is wearing the tunic. I have noticed that both Bardet and Rolland tuck into an aerodynamic position without being equally distributed or symmetrical on the bike. They are off balance. I imagine this is to preserve their male organs from damage, but why are they the only ones that do this on the descent? The rest tuck in symmetrically. Today they went past the town where the Opinel knife was invented and talked to the nephew of the inventor. Their “personality of the day” interviews. They are those famous ones with the wooden handle, the ring that fixed the blade … oh, Google it. Many people love them, I see no point in them and have a Laguiole knife, the same one for 25 years. Noticed that in the sprint for the line, BOTH Bardet and Pinot beat Valverde. Normally he can out-sprint nearly anyone, so I have no interpretation, except that he was very tired and it was a very hard stage. I see that Bardet is three points in front of Froome for the mountain jersey. That essentially means that Bardet has to finish ahead of Froome on both the big climbs tomorrow, including Alpe d’Huez. There might be some other way he can win the jersey, like once place behind Froome if they finish fifth and sixth or something, but I can’t be bothered to figure it out. I suppose it will all depend on whether Quintana attacks. If he does, I doubt that Bardet can follow Quintana and probably Froome can more or less follow him. But in any case, Bardet gets to wear the jersey for a day and while climbing the Alpe. Bardet has been a pretty impressive rider, although he has also lost tons of time here and there. A little more experience, and riding a bit more consistently, like Quintana and he will do very well. He is a good descender, up there with Sanchez, Cancellara, Nibali, Sagan and the very best. A day rich in incident, most of which I have not mentioned. A pleasure to watch. Just noticed the top five have all won a Grand Tour. If not a first, then not a common event.