After three weeks of highs and lows, it all came down to the race of truth to decide the final classification. Would it be stirred or shaken? It was a fitting, nail-biting finish on today’s penultimate stage with a testing, rolling parcours made trickier by partially dry roads but Tom Dumoulin, resplendent in his white world champion’s skinsuit, beat Chris Froome by a single, solitary second to cement his runner’s up spot. Froome rode like a defending champion to dislodge yesterday’s stage winner, a weary Primoz Roglic, from the podium and reclaim his third place. Meanwhile race leader Geraint Thomas, third on the stage, only eased up once he knew the title was in the bag, though we all had our hearts in our throats as he wobbled around a corner en route. That just leaves tomorrow’s largely processionary stage for the GC but a trophy win on the Champs Elysees for one of the few remaining sprinters.
Chad sums it up
Rider of the Day
I have just one rider of the day and it’s probably going to surprise you. Arise Chris Froome. Yep, the Tour’s defending champion and, until tomorrow evening, holder of all three Grand Tour titles. Four proved just one too many and just maybe that Giro/Tour double is too difficult. Remember the last rider to achieve it was the late Marco Pantani (1998) – nuff said!
In addition, I was impressed by Froome’s never-say-die attitude, even while toeing the team line in support of teammate Geraint Thomas. Plus, he’s had to put up with a lot of abuse from the fans. It’s not nice. I witnessed it first hand and was frankly shocked at its vehemence. To his credit, he’s turned the other cheek and maintained his focus. He’s an extremely focussed individual as I discovered when I met him back in 2013 before his first Tour victory. Froome fans, rest assured, this race won’t be his swansong.
Cue emotional scenesEmbed from Getty Images
Proving he’s really just a softy at heart, we had a few tears post-race from Geraint Thomas, after being embraced by his wife at the finish line, as he finally allowed himself to acknowledge he’s the first Welshman to win the Tour de France.
I expect there’s going to be plenty of celebrations in Wales if these tweets are anything to go by. I understand that Thomas will be celebrating with a six-pack of Welsh cakes. So that’s his secret weapon!
You see there’s hope for all of us, not forgetting that runner-up Tom Dumoulin comes from a famously flat country, the Netherlands.
While all the celebrations are taking place, please spare a thought for Geraint Thomas’s namesake.
Movistar slip-sliding away
Aside from Froome and Roglic swapping places on GC, Romain Bardet’s efforts allowed him to swap places with Mikel Landa. Likewise, a determined effort from Ilnur Zakarin saw him leapfrog Nairo Quintana. Movistar seriously need to rethink their three-pronged approach, which is allegedly making Landa think about jumping ship (again).
Jersey wearers fashion parade
Kudos to KOM Julian Alaphilippe for not wearing head-to-toe pox. The red shorts with the spotty top struck just the right note. Likewise Pierre Latour who matched black bottoms with a white top rather than a white skinsuit. Very wise given the wet conditions – some of those suits can become practically transparent. Race leader Thomas, it had to be said, did look like a giant banana in all-over yellow. Our own Panache wondered whether he was wearing a pair of Marigolds. Panache, I’ve checked with Mrs Thomas and Geraint only wears them when he’s washing up.Embed from Getty Images
However, the result of today’s stage might’ve have been oh-so-different if Sunweb’s cycling kit provider wasn’t based just up the road in Spain’s Basque country.
Because you can never have too many tears …
1 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) 40:52
2 Chris Froome (Sky) +0:01
3 Geraint Thomas (Sky) +0:14
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) +0:50
5 Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) +0:51
GC Top 10
1 Geraint Thomas (Sky) 80:30:37
2 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +1:51
3 Chris Froome (Sky) +2:24
4 Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) +3:22
5 Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +6:08
6 Romain Bardet (Ag2r) +6:57
7 Mikel Landa (Movistar) +7:37
8 Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) +9:05
9 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +12:37
10 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +14:18
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Geraint Thomas (Sky)
Points jersey: Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe)
KOM jersey: Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors)
Best young rider: Pierre Latour (Ag2r)
Super combative: Dan Martin (UAE Emirates)
Listen to Stage 20’s VeloVoices Tour in 5 podcast now on any podcast browser, even Spotify! and remember, you can get involved too!
Header image: ©GETTY/AFP/Philippe Lopez