Stage 20 – Goodness, Thibaut wins.
Another brilliant stage. I loved it. I watched it all the way through, although I did take a break to wash the lunch dishes, when they were riding down the valley. Seems like I have seen them in that valley ten times before, and nothing much ever happens. The break won! That is, Thibaut was in the break and he won. Very happy for the lad. Like several of these new French riders, he has great possibilities, but not enough consistency and discipline. But he has a bit of time, and winning stages is not to be laughed at. Although the overall performance was less impressive than last year, one quarter of the top 20 were French, 9-10-14-16-18, not bad at all. You could even say “nearly one third of the top 18 were French”. Quintana finally made a serious attack that stuck. Maybe he was feeling better and stronger, maybe Froome was worn out from all the pressure of the yellow jersey. Too bad they aren’t both in good form at the same time, we might get some kind of very powerful race. Even as it was, it was really excellent. The right guy won the Tour. In fact, other than Nibali getting an awkwardly timed puncture, we might have ended up with the top three being three of the big four. As it was, the Top Four ended with only Valverde depriving them of the 1-2-3-4 finish their label suggested before the Tour. And the consensual top favourite of the Four did win.
In fact, none of the jersey winners were surprising really. Looking back at one of my cycling forums and the choices we made before the race, Froome was not a surprise, nor was Sagan, nor was Quintana. Admittedly some thought a rider other than the winner of the Tour would have picked up the mountains jersey, so Froome winning that was a minor surprise. But even there, Froome was picked by some. The average prediction for the various jerseys was nearly 3 out of four. Having said that, the various stages provided some very fine racing, even if he end result was somewhat expectable. We really didn’t know about the mountains jersey or the yellow jersey until the last racing stage. That is not bad. In fact it is very good. On the other hand, the top two in the mountains jersey were also the top two in the tour. Not very interesting and indicating that once again, obviously, you have to be a top climber to win the Tour. AND no other rider took much interest in the jersey itself and if they did (J-Rod and Bardet) they weren’t even as good at executing jersey winning moves as the GC guys, who had utterly no intention of winning the jersey. The top two just won the mountains competition as a side effect of outriding nearly everyone on important mountain stages.
There were enough attacks from various riders to keep me happy for sure. I might have even been on the edge of my seat for about 20 minutes or so. Overall I am quite happy with the Tour. One of the better ones of the last twenty years. I hope they all come back next year.
I am a bit tired tonight as I missed my nap watching the whole stage. I also went out to an apero type thing immediately after the show. So tonight you get very little, even though it was a great stage on a mythic climb. See you tomorrow, to see who wins on the Champs.