*okay we’re at stage 10 of 21, so not quite halfway but I’m not going to post this halfway through the stage tomorrow.
The 103rd running of the Tour de France has been shaping up more or less as expected so far. Fans have already gotten in the way of riders multiple times. Mark Cavendish has won 3 stages, passing Bernard Hinault and becoming 2nd all time in stage wins at the Tour with 29. Both he and Peter Sagan have had a hold of the Green Jersey. Marcel Kittel took a Stage win. Chris Froome is already in the lead, looking poised to be wearing the Yellow Jersey in Paris for the 3rd time in 4 years. Nairo Quintana has been the most boring rider, literally sitting on Froome’s wheel for most of the race and seeming uninterested in attacking the race favorite. He remains the only GC contender that has yet to make a serious go at it. Adam Yates, Richie Porte, and Dan Martin were all attacking Froome on Stage 8 before he took the Bagnères-de-Luchon (and the maillot jaune) on his incredible descent from the summit, in an aero position on his top tube while continuing to pedal.
Quintana was grabbing a water bottle as it happened and says he was caught off guard by the move. He quickly threw the bottle to the side of the road but instead of following Froome, he looked around for his teammate Valverde to chase him down for him instead of making the move himself. It’s the exact opposite behavior displayed by do-it-all sprinter and current World Champion Peter Sagan. He’s been on his own for much of the race but he continues to battle and chase down attacks without his teammates around.
Thibaut Pinot has flashed glimpses of his incredible talent, putting him in the polka dot King of the Mountains Jersey, but has been maddeningly inconsistent, already essentially eliminating himself from GC contention. The BMC experiment with bringing in both Richie Porte and American Tejay van Garderen hasn’t turned out the way they had hoped. Porte lost time early and theoretically ceded the title of team leader to van Garderen, but he has looked much stronger in the mountains thus far. It may take the length of the race for them to work out who they’re riding for. At least Greg Van Avermaet took a stage win for BMC.
Tinkoff-Saxo has had their own ups and downs. Peter Sagan is now in the Green Jersey after finishing in the breakaway in Stage 10. He also won the sprint finish in Stage 2, but team leader Alberto Contador had his struggles. He crashed twice in the first 2 stages and ended up running a fever, causing him to abandon on Stage 9 in his home country of Spain. Hopefully he can get back in shape in time for the Olympic Road Race.
The Sky boys look very strong and have had a big showing for overall leader Chris Froome. Instead of chasing stage victories, they’re putting all their effort into keeping Froome safe and it has paid off already, making sure he didn’t lose time in the sprinters stages and keeping him fresh enough in the mountains that he could attack over the top and take time out of the other GC contenders. It seems as if it’s Froome’s race to lose – barring crash or injury, he should be able to take it home. Quintana’s reluctance to attack is what held him back last year and he’s running back the same strategy, with the same results thus far. The pure climber will presumably attack up Mount Ventoux to put time into the Kenyan born British national (Alp d’Huez was not included in the 2016 route, where Quintana put 1:20 into Froome in 2015, but it was ultimately not enough to overcome the hole he dug in the sprinters stages and time trials). Adam Yates, Dan Martin, and Romain Bardet all have a real chance to compete with Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana but it appears it will be a two-horse race again this year.
Overall General Classification Standings:
- Christopher Froome: 49:08:20
- Adam Yates: +00:16
- Dan Martin: +00:19
- Nairo Quintana: +00:23
- Joaquim Rodriguez: +00:37
- Romain Bardet: +00:44
- Bauke Mollema: +00:44
- Sergio Henao: +00:44
- Luis Meintjes: +00:55
- Alejandro Valverde: +01:01
Thoughts About the Thoughts:
Brian: I know very little about cycling and even less about the names involved, but the changing routes every year is interesting. Like golf, and to a lesser extent tennis with the multiple surfaces, I like it when sports don’t allow their athletes to get comfortable event by event.
Brock: is in Denmark and unable to comment on the intricacies of a race in France.