This classic Tour de France dress rehearsal was a largely sodden, slow burner, only coming alight on the weekend’s short, sharp mountain stages after a mid-way time-trial had exposed the GC contenders. Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang seized the leader’s jersey with a late attack on stage 7, which he easily retained on the final stage, despite a handful of riders being within a minute of him. The podium was rounded out by runner-up Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First) and third-placed Emanuel Buchmann (BORA-hansgrohe) who both survived the weather-related culling of GC contenders.
Riders of the Race
This was a race of attrition with riders dropping like flies due to injury or illness, particularly after the Dantesque conditions on stage 7, with only 106 (out of 154) finishing today. Of course, it’s all too easy to plump for the overall winner Jakob Fuglsang (2017 winner) who, along with many of his teammates, has been on fire this season winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Ruta del Sol. Instead, I’m giving the award to the entire team. I don’t know what Astana have changed this season but the boys in baby blue are a force to be reckoned with. More importantly, they seem strategically en pointe.
I was expecting the day to be even harder than it eventually happened to be but my team controlled it in a perfect way from the beginning. For me, it was a jump in a blue limousine until the finish. … The cold yesterday has affected a few people. Compared to 2017, this victory is special because I got to ride in the yellow-blue jersey. … My next race is the Tour de France. … Up to now it’s been a fantastic season for me. I hope it can get even better. Everything seems to come really easy and perfect, with no stress. The whole Astana team is riding super strong this year. Everybody is lifting everybody. There’s a good atmosphere.
My second award goes to the winner of two stages. Yes I’m talking about Wout van Aert who, on the day after his individual time-trial win (stage 4), sprinted to victory in Voiron strengthening his hold on the points classification. But before you wonder if there’s anything he can’t do, please bear in mind he finished 65th on stage 6, just over 15 mins behind the stage winner and nine minutes adrift of the GC group he was in until the race sharpened, proving the 24-year-old is human after all. Coincidentally, he finished 47th overall albeit with a spot of fever. Next stop, the Tour de France. Could he challenge Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) for the maillot vert?
Tour clues …
This race is usually an opportunity to assess the chances of the maillot jaune hopefuls, and the usual suspects littered the race’s overall classification proving they’re on track. We know that Chris Froome, who crashed badly on the recon of the time-trial, won’t be taking part in this year’s Tour though we assume that Dauphine drop-outs Tom Dumoulin, Steven Kruijswijk and Adam Yates will be turning up. What we do know is that the podium will go into the Tour de France – yes, they’re all taking part – with plenty of confidence.
Tweets that made us smile
I loved that Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) expressed what many in the peloton are thinking particularly after Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) at 19 – yes, only 19 – became the youngest winner of the Baloise Tour of Belgium today.
A speedy recovery
Alex is referring to Froome’s crash earlier this week, when he took his hands off the handlebars to blow his nose and the wind whipped his front wheel causing him to crash into a wall at speed. It was such a bad crash that Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) feared the worst. Meanwhile, Juan Jose Cobos, winner of 2011 Vuelta Espana where Froome took his first podium in the runner-up spot, has been banned for passport anomalies (8 years later?!), meaning Froome will become the first British winner of a Grand Tour.
1 Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) 30:44:27
2 Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First) +0:20
3 Emanuel Buchmann (BORA-hansgrohe) +0:21
4 Wout Poels (INEOS) +0:28
5 Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +0:33
6 Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) +1:11
7 Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) +1:12
8 Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) +1:21
9 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +1:24
10 Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) +1:38
All the jerseys
Points Jersey: Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)
KOM Jersey: Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quik Step)
Best Young Rider Jersey: Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal)
Team Classification Leader: Astana
Stage 1: Edvald Boassen Hagen (Dimension Data)
Stage 2: Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Merida)
Stage 3: Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe)
Stage 4: Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)
Stage 5: Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)
Stage 6: Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
Stage 7: Wout Poels (INEOS)
Stage 8: Dylan van Baarle (INEOS)
Links: Official race website
Overall race Report: cyclingnews
Header: © GETTY/Velo/Tim de Waele