Tour de France 2017 : Stage 20 – Bodnar fastest, Bardet survives and Froome seals yellow

The race of truth. 22.5km with 33 corners to make the nerves jangle and a savage climb to test the legs and the gearing choices. Maciej Bodnar covered the course in a silky smooth 28.15 mins, beating fellow Pole Michal Kwiatkowski by a single second to take a hugely popular victory. Rigoberto Uran outpaced Romain Bardet to jump onto the second step of the podium despite a contretemps with the barriers. The Frenchman had a nightmare on his TT bike, giving everything to just retain third place by a second from a charging Mikel Landa. Chris Froome never looked anything less than the winner of this year’s Grand Bouclé. Nearly catching Bardet on the line to finish 4th on the day and ride into Paris 54secs to the good.

Rider of the Race

I am something of a sucker for a happy ending. I was thrilled to pieces to see Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) finally take a stage win yesterday after two photo finishes that went against him. So it’s no surprise that I feel exactly the same fuzzy tingle watching Maciej Bodnar step up onto the podium to bask in the electric atmosphere of the Orange Vélodrome this afternoon. He went so heart-breakingly close to victory on stage 11 into Pau, caught with 300m to go after being in the break all day. I’d like you all to put down your tissues and join me in beckoning this quiet BORA-hansgrohe rider up to receive his second rider of the race award – a  feat only matched by Warren Barguil in this Tour.

Bodnar has TT pedigree and came to this technical course with a plan: hit the lines around the 33 corners, give the climb everything he had and then just push the big gear until the finish. He executed with perfection and then had a nervous 3 hour wait in the hotseat while everyone tilted at his time. Kwiatkowski’s ride must have caused palpitations, but as the final GC riders raced home his breathing got easier and when Chris Froome finally crossed the line in fourth the celebrations could start. Post race he said…

It was a really amazing day for me today. I’ve waited a long time for this moment, for my first stage victory at the Tour de France. When I was a child, my dream was to race in the Tour de France, and now I’ve taken a stage! It is a fantastic moment. I’d like to thank my girlfriend who always stood by me, my mother and, of course, my father who, unfortunately, passed away and wasn’t able to watch this great moment. 

From Dusseldorf to Paris with yellow and red

They may not be my favourite team but I have to hand it to Sky. They have defended the yellow jersey for 19 of the 21 stages. Ridden the entire race with the dubious honour (style-wise) of wearing the yellow helmets denoting best team and are about to collect their fifth title in six years. Sure, it locked the race down tight and made it all kind of ho-hum, but that’s what they do well.  This year they look set to add yet another Tour de France distinction to their palmares by capturing both the maillot jaune and the lanterne rouge – the first time this has happened for 50 years.

Quite rightly Chris Froome gets his time in the spotlight complete with cuddly lion

But I’m delighted to see Luke Rowe with his prize too…

One single second

Romain Bardet slumped to the ground a picture of dead-eyed exhaustion and despair after his TT effort.”I gave everything. I quickly saw that I wasn’t in the match, so I did the time trial with my head rather than my legs.” Mind over matter saw him save third place on the podium by the smallest of margins.

For every scintilla of Bedhead relief there has to be an equal and opposite reaction for the rider who came so close to a last gasp podium place. How does being on the flip side of the solitary second feel? Well, according to the report below Mikel Landa was left shaking his fist at Father Time and pondering on all those occasions he could have gained the precious second he fell short by.

“I can think of many moments in which I could have won that second. For example last Thursday or that stage (the 13th) in which I escaped with Contador. Warren (Barguil) won and I didn’t get any bonification seconds.”

I wonder if there are there bonus seconds up for grabs on the ChampsÉlysées ? If so watch out AG2R-La Mondiale #RogueLanda might just make an appearance.

It’s a ‘doctored’ image but it made me smile nonetheless.

Keeping Cool

As temperatures soared in Marseilles ice jackets were de rigueur for most riders wanting to keep cool on the warm up. No one topped the Sunweb team though – they had slush puppies on tap!

The last word

Top 5 stage 

1 Maciej Bodnar (BORA-hansgrohe) 28:15

2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) +0:01

3 Chris Froome (Sky) +0:06

4 Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) +0:14

5 Daryl Impey (ORICA-Scott) +0:20

Top 5 GC

1 Chris Froome (Sky) 83:55:16

2 Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) +0:54

3 Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) +2:20

5 Mikel Landa (Sky) +2:21

5 Fabio Aru (Astana) +3:05

All the jerseys

Leader: Chris Froome (Sky)

Points: Michael Matthews (Sunweb)

KOM: Warren Barguil (Sunweb)

Best Young Rider: Simon Yates (Orica-Scott)

Team Classification: Sky

For race reviews, go to CyclingNews; official LeTour website is here

Header image:Maciej Bodnar © LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images

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