Who’s in, who’s out? Who’s on the way up and who’s on the way down? Things may not always be what they seem in the strangest of grand tours.
Us – Losers
We’re cycling fans, aren’t we? We love cycling. So, while Stage 9 was exciting, it was bitterly disappointing to see Richie Porte leave Le Tour. Just as he’s got his form back on track, Porte crashes out of Le Tour twice in successive years. Not great for us fans, right?
Added to that, Bardet’s heroic effort in stage 9 just to stay vaguely in contention must have cost him dear in the long term. Technical fault after fault left the Frenchman playing catch up on one of the most fraught of stages. Even worse, at the time of writing, his nearest teammate is two minutes behind.
Team Sky – Winners
I’m writing this after watching Stage 11 and Geraint Thomas has taken the maillot jaune. Good for him. But Team Sky must be rubbing their eyes – it must be difficult to believe how lucky they’ve been. Froome has emerged from the early stages relatively unscathed, and Sky’s two race leaders are within twenty seconds of each other.
— Team Sky (@TeamSky) July 19, 2018
It can’t be overstated how important team proximity is as we head towards stage 17 – please read about it here. Having your team around you may be more important than which wave you start in -just look at how far behind Froome was when he made the decisive attack in the Giro.
Thomas and Froome could even risk conserving energy and losing a minute waiting for Egan Arley Bernal Gomez to catch up. Or Gomez could drop the hammer to join them. Or maybe work to get Kwiatkowski in contention. The point is, Team Sky have options and, when you look at the state of BMC, you can’t help but feel there was a little luck involved.
The Old Guard – Losers
Cavendish never looks like he enjoys cycling up a hill, let alone a mountain – but he’ll do it if he thinks he can grab another stage. He’ll do it if it means he’ll wear green. But Stage 11’s three brutal climbs came less than 24 hours after the 20% gradients of the Plateau des Glières.
Sometimes everything you give just isn’t enough. But the finish line will always be there & you’ll pass it eventually. Thanks to @TeamDiData. Thanks to @LeTour, the race that’s shaped my career & heart. Most importantly, thanks to the incredible fans over the last couple of weeks https://t.co/W5ho0J02wk
— Mark Cavendish (@MarkCavendish) July 19, 2018
Any green jersey contenders not in the points, or with a reputation to make would have been tested psychologically as well as physically and The Manx Missile and auld enemy Kittel finished outside stage 11’s time limit. These aren’t the dynamic cyclists of 5 years ago. Sagan now looks unimpeachable.
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo – Winners
Despite an unfortunate start and a nasty looking tumble, Dylan Groenewegen won stage 8 and his team are 4th overall. Without a doubt, the race managers will wish they’d had better luck in the opening stages when Lotto NL-Jumbo super-domestique Gesink was setting a brisk tempo at the front of the peloton.
Stay tuned for our race report and more photos… pic.twitter.com/b0GNn1W34y
— LottoNLJumbo Cycling (@LottoJumbo_road) July 18, 2018
More intriguing is the fact that after Stage 11, Primož Roglič and Steven Kruijswijk are the only team-mates sat next to each other in the general classification top 35 – other than Thomas and Froome. Bear in mind that Roglič and Kruijswijk are sat in 5th and 6th place – and Gesink is still vaguely in touch. Keep an eye on this team – something interesting may happen.