6 July 2013
It is a bit hard not to focus first and foremost on the overwhelming victory of Froome, Porte and Sky. Almost like yesterday with Cannondale, Sky had a plan, everyone knew the plan, and no one could do anything about it. Although Movistar had a plan too and it worked on everyone but Sky. The question on many minds is what can any team do to prevent FroomeSky from winning, or even being one two at the end. The only response seems to be to attack earlier with more guys. This will be excellent for us spectators. No one really knows what will happen on the first mountain stage, ever. Sky was fine, perfect. BMC was not so good, Evans and especially Tejay van Garderen losing massive time. Probably Tejay will not the winner of the best young rider jersey (I predicted he would). Movistar seemed to come off the best, Valverde seemed never to be in difficulty, just a bit slower than Sky. And he still has Quintana to work for him once the young lad gets a grip on his first Tour. In short, the Tour is not over, but it sometimes looks like it. Maybe the next two weeks will still have some surprises, and perhaps some interest will arise in the KOM competition. I am still keen to see what happens.
What else can we notice about this stage, given that it was the first big stage and we have two weeks to go. First, for me anyway, is the performance of Valverde and Quintana. Admittedly Quintana went a bit early and got a bit wasted, but he looked really good, and will no doubt find a rhythm in his time. It IS his first Tour. Valverde never look hard pressed, just not as fast. And with Valverde and Quintana both being quite explosive, they may generate a bit of interest before the end of the Tour. A few other riders did rather well, given that they all lost. Bauke Mollema was expected to do quite well, as many suspected Gesink was never going to succeed. And Mollema has a teammate who is quite well known, Laurent Ten Dam. Ten Dam always was a good rider, but very unlikely to be in the top ten. Perhaps those two, acting in a coherent way, might cause some trouble (maybe Gesink will have a good day). Contador has good helpers, Kreuziger and Rogers being excellent, so he won't lie down and give up. Alberto should not have such a bad day again. Then there is Valverde and Quintana, who make a formidable duo. In my eyes, Valverde did not look very stressed today, just a bit slower. Evans and Tejay who are free to do whatever they can, since they won't win after the results of this stage. Nieve and Anton (Euskatel) have some degree of respectability, and might do something clever.
No one is ever going to give Sky the least bit of help, ever. They are universally respected, but they are also universally disliked. Who would help them and why? So we can hope that some kind of alliance might form here or there to cause some trouble. Although these alliances seldom work. MAYBE a Spanish one? Also, we have the possibility that those who have lost many minutes on this stage might feel a bit better and attack from afar, perhaps succeeding (Evans and van Garderen, for example). I know I am stretching things, but I really don't like to think the GC is settled after the first mountain stage, even if that is a strong possibility and what many commentators say. Oh yes, there could be accidents or illness, but when I talk like that I don't feel good and am getting desperate.
Hmmm. Bit hard to find much to say. A mention of Richie Porte is in order. He rode totally for Froome, and when he attacked on the last climb, the riders simply fell away, nobody could keep up with him, even when he was in front and everyone was following. Froome said he was going to attack, Porte let him go, cruised along with the others for a bit, a decent and respectable interval, and then he himself dropped them all. I have a feeling that if Porte cares about winning the Tour, he is going to have to find another team. Since the two are pals, and Sky allows Porte to win other Tours, then perhaps if they pay him enough he will stay. Which reminds me that there seems to be very little place for Wiggo, unless he gains some weight and rides the classics that Froome and Porte don't care about.
We still don't know who is actually keen to win the KOM. We have a perfectly predictable situation where Froome is tied with Rolland. But Rolland actually cares about the jersey and tries to make the moves to gain the points. Froome just happens to BE the best climber, especially at the end. So he might win that jersey without even trying. If some rider wants to beat him they will have to accumulate enough points on a long attack in at least one stage, maybe two. We don't know who cares about that yet. But tomorrow is a great stage for a long attack to pick up points for the KOM jersey. We shall see who makes the move. I am looking for Kessiakoff.
A short mention of Bardet, Kennaugh and Kwiatkowski as young riders who did a very respectable job today. None will win the Tour, in fact, none will win the young rider's jersey. But they were still noteworthy if you look at the results. For those new to this blog, I assume you can look up the results in another window.
Really, honestly, there is not much more to say. What a demonstration of team unity and power!
Good night, I am beat today.