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Winners and Losers of Le Tour de France 2018 – Part 3

By Christopher Ashley

Has Le Tour been turned on its head? Are we now certain that Geraint Thomas is going to wear yellow in Paris? Here’s who’s winning and losing.

Amaury Sport Organisation – Winners

I admit it – I hyped Stage 17 because of the unusual grid start. In the end, the start was pathetically uninspiring as the peloton casually reorganised itself into business as usual. But, in my defence, I did note that the AMO had decided that the final climb should approach from the same direction Aru broke Froome last year. And didn’t it show?

The AMO somehow managed to make the shortest stage in 30 years one of the most compelling and competitive stages in recent memory. I still had, in the back of my mind, the belief that any attack would be on Froome – but when Martin and Quintana’s attacks were followed by Roglič’s effort, it soon became apparent that Geraint Thomas seemed vulnerable too.

Chris Froome – loser

I’ve been a fan of Froome ever since I read an interview where he confessed the worst job he ever had was as a “spin class leader”. For some reason he’s disliked almost as much as The Texan for a host of reasons but, it seems to me, Froome’s greatest sin has always been he was too good.

Chris Froome and other riders wait after the race was neutralized because of a farmers’ demonstration on the way of the 16th stage between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon, France, 24 July 2018. © Profimedia, AFP

I’m writing this after Stage 17 and Geraint Thomas looks like he’s well and truly usurped the most talented all-rounder for a generation. But now that I’ve committed this to paper I suddenly feel less confident. Froome recovered from Aru’s attack – and has a history of surprise assaults.

Movistar – Winners

Podium positions for the general classification are still up for grabs, but the team competition looks like it’s certain to go to Movistar. Miracles may happen, but given Movistar’s line up of absurdly talented and experienced tour cyclists, it looks unlikely Bahrain-Merida will usurp them.

To top it all, The Condor soared, flexed his guns and won Stage 17 with panache. Thomas thought about it, going with Quintana but he took the tactical decision. The Col du Portet may not be where the maillot jaune was won – but it was definitely the defining moment in the team competition.

The Dutch – Winners

Not only did Geraint “G” Thomas carve out time from an oxygen-starved Froome, but Dumoulin suddenly dug deep and found the resources to cross the finish line alongside Roglic. The Dutchman leapfrogged Froome and found himself in 2nd place – over 30 seconds clear of the Brit.

Primoz Roglic and Tom Dumoulin ride in the last kilometers of the 17th stage between Bagneres-de-Luchon and Saint-Lary-Soulan Col du Portet, southwestern France, on July 25, 2018. © Profimedia, AFP

The Dutch Team Lotto NL-Jumbo are an increasingly menacing presence in the peloton – Gesink gave it some socks on the final climb of Stage 16. But it’s the diminutive Roglic who’s stolen the show and, it can’t be overstated enough, is within 20 seconds of Chris Froome’s 3rd place.

Footballers – Losers

Neymar take note – the hardmen of cycling could teach you a thing or two about injuries and how you cope with them. Philippe Gilbert fell down the side of a mountain. With a broken kneecap he climbs a rockface with his bare hands to reach his bike that’s still on the road.

Gilbert was put back on his bike and completed the last 60 km as a medical team attended his cuts from the fall – while he’s racing. Up a mountain. With a broken kneecap. Unlike some sports “personalities”, Tour cyclists don’t do this for any tactical advantage – they do it because they love cycling.