I’m writing this article having watched Chris Froome running up that hill like Kate Bush in a Yellow Jersey. It’s an awkward kind of drama that Le Tour organisers try to avoid. Let’s be thankful the Green Jersey competition is providing the right kind of drama.
Sagan’s Royal Escape in Stage 10
Cavendish went into Stage 10 with less than a 10 point lead over Sagan, but couldn’t match the Slovakian rider’s versatility of riding styles. After winning the intermediate sprint in Aigues Vives, Sagan formed une échappe royale with Nibali and Rui Costa and nearly another dozen riders.
The break had all but disintegrated by the time six riders reached the finish line in Revel. Sagan pushed himself to his limits to claim 2nd place in Stage 10, but Orica BikeExchange’s Michael Matthews had the best launch from his team-mate Impey.
Sagan isn’t the natural sprinter that Cavendish is, but he compensated by playing to his strengths and judged his break perfectly. He left the Manx cyclist behind, decreasing the likelihood he’ll be in the Green Jersey in Paris. This suggests the Dimension Data rider is more focussed on stealing the occasional stage rather than winning Green in The Points Classification. Although…
Is Cavendish playing mind games?
Never underestimate a world class sprinter – especially one known for improvising his way to the front of a bunch sprint. The last few Tour de Frances have become less predictable over time, but this tour is completely back to front.
With the GC closer than expected, all the teams are retaining an aggressive stance and the weather has been impossible to predict – the resulting chaos isn’t fun for the riders. This may suit an opportunist like Cavendish – if he sees a chance to move one stage closer to The Cannibal’s record, he’ll take it.
Stage 11: The wind blows the field away
After beating Coquard in Stage 4, Marcel Kittel must have fancied his chances on the relatively flat Stage 11 into Montpellier. Unfortunately for Kittel, Froome realised that the echelons caused by the tramontane wind would blow away the best laid plans.
Team Sky stepped in to ruin Kittel’s hopes when Froome latched on to Sagan’s attack. When Geraint Thomas joined the pair, Sagan knew Team Sky were serious about bringing further pain to the peloton and he duly dropped the hammer. Sagan picked up the points and the stage victory, improving his claim to the Green Jersey.
Sagan looks comfortable sitting with 309 points, and with more mountains to come, Cavendish has a lot of work to do to narrow the Tinkoff sprinter’s 90 point lead.