WinnersThe fact that the Tour even took place is a miracle in itself but the fact that it was inspiring, thrilling and indecisive until the penultimate day was all the more remarkable. Against the backdrop of the fear and suspicion that COVID-19 has brought to the world, and to sport in particular, the Tour de France has shown that there is hope not only for the future of cycling but for life in general.The race has evolved to cope with current circumstances and a new generation of runners has emerged; young forwards that we hope to see for many years to come. We had 21 different stages and 21 different races which showed that professional cycling can and has changed. There were no processions and nothing was decided until the UAE led the peloton down the Champs Elysees. Long live the Tour.
It’s easy to say that the young Slovenian came back from the Tour de France with all the booty. Despite his relative inexperience in Grand Tours racing, he was still there or so with just one day wasting time in the crosswinds at Lavaur. His performance at the Vuelta last year was an indication that he had to be taken seriously, but everyone ignored him until his attack on the Peyresourde proved he was the strongest climber in the race.
Benefiting from the focus on Roglič against Bernal and the Jumbo battle against Ineos, his UAE team had no real pressure on them and it was just as good because with the loss of Fabio Aru and especially of Davide Formolo, he had only had David de La Cruz to support him in crucial moments. Look beyond whether Pogačar won or Primož Roglič lost and you realize that he is the most talented of the new generation, and he has run with maturity beyond his years.
“The New Sky” would be a good description of how the Dutch team works. As a unit, they looked like how Dave Brailsford’s team had controlled previous tours, but without resentment. The race wasn’t crushed by their tactics, it was more about dealing with situations and leveraging their strengths without completely stifling the opposition.
It was no accident that all of their guys were in good shape, they had planned their season accordingly and built up a core of riders adaptable to various circumstances. Wout van Aert is the one you immediately think of when it comes to guiding his team leader, but Robert Gesink was equally worthy. There aren’t many people who can set the pace on a mountain or two days after days. In the end, they were canceled by Pogačar but the Dutch set the new standard.
From the start in Nice, he fought with Julian Alaphilippe and Adam Yates for victory, but this race on stage 2 was no accident, as the slog of Laruns showed. There, although he was alone in front for 85 km of the stage, he was hardly beaten by Pogačar.
Four days later he went on to win his first stage of the Tour de France after another break. Winner of the most aggressive runner in a country mile, Sunweb has real talent in his books because he knows how to sprint, climb and time trial. He’s also a fearless descendant and one of the future stars for sure. Watch this place.
Yes, he finished second when it seemed all the more likely that the La Planche des Belles Filles time trial would be a coronation and not a loss but look beyond the obvious and you see progress. How the 30-year-old managed to become the favorite throughout the race was impressive.
Taking on the yellow jersey and taking on the responsibilities that come with it wasn’t easy, but he didn’t seem overwhelmed. A bad day is not the end of him and it’s the way he deals with disappointment that will be important.
Where has he gone? Pretty much everywhere if I am to be honest. Only Michał Kwiatkowski and Richard Carapaz are apologized for the sad performances of a team which has promised so much and delivered so little. Considering they have the biggest budget and some of the best drivers for each role, they consistently underperform. All the runners looked tired. Sivakov should have been retired with the injuries he sustained on opening day because he never recovered – the Tour de France is not an active recovery race.
There were some illusions of grandeur when it was rung time, but elsewhere they were outclassed by Jumbo-Visma and it wasn’t until Egan Bernal got home that a Plan B kicked in. Too little too late when you consider the resources available, and Dave Brailsford knows it. Position 10 in the race convoy for Paris says it all.
The end of an era. The Slovakian never looked fast enough to win a stage and when he was tied for points for breaking into Wout Van Aert, hopes for another green jersey were gone at the same time. To his credit his team tried to eliminate the other sprinters and it might have worked if Sagan himself was in better shape. Despite the hype and still having the swagger, the character who looked invincible began the slow descent into the twilight of his career.
French teams, excluding AG2R
If you take out AG2R, which won a stage and had Romain Bardet hanging on until he too fell, it’s worrying that French cycling doesn’t have anyone looking competitive. They have so few young riders who progress when they reach the pro ranks and when they rely on their established stars, they too underperform.
Pierre Rolland, as the most prominent French driver of the third week, is the sign of a malaise that invades the local collective as soon as the Tour de France takes place. It seems they are happy to be there, walking through their villages greeting their friends and family. I won’t even quote what Bernard Hinault said about his compatriots because that doesn’t change anything, which unfortunately has been the case with their GC result for 35 years.
He won a stage, and it was the Queen stage, but give him a time trial bike and he’s sad. Five minutes less for a fifty minute effort that includes over a third of the uphill driving time is bad and that is after he said he was working on his position.
The Colombian is the least likely to win a major stage race and most likely to be in the bad half of any division in the peloton. Therefore, Superman’s nickname must be a misnomer. Vinokurov should have brought Jakob Fuglsang. End of.
The arrival of Bjarne Riis hasn’t changed much for the registered South African squad. Barely able to put a runner in the attacks, no GC presence and no threat in the sprint stages there seems to be a communication problem somewhere in the ranks.
The only time they appeared to be together was the photo of the celebration when five of them made their way to the Champs-Elysees. It made me wonder if this was their first time seeing each other, you know like people you thought you had lost and would never see again. Arkea finished the Tour with the lowest prizes but NTT must have been the one with the least media coverage. Yawning.