It was heralded as the hardest stage in the Tour de France this year (by Dan Martin, amongst others) with seven categorised climbs in 160km and it was predicted to separate the wheat from the chaff by the time they reached the summit of La Planche des Belles Filles. And while it took until that last climb to bring the GC group to life, there was plenty of fireworks once they did wake up. But it was a duo who had been out in the break all day who have their names written in the Tour’s history books tonight. Neck-and-neck until the flamme rouge and the gravelled climb to the finish, Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) proved to be the strongest, leaving Trek-Segafredo’s Giulio Ciccone in his dust (literally), as he crossed the line. But Ciccone didn’t go away empty-handed, donning the maillot jaune at the end of the day.
Thibaut Pinot has had a marvellous season and it’s fitting that it’s been capped off by the Frenchman’s first Monument win with Lombardia. In great late season form, he took his second Italian win this week by cracking Vincenzo Nibali on Civiglio, the penultimate climb of the race, to take a beautiful solo win. Nibali held on for second with Dylan Teuns putting in a solid performance to round out the podium.
You know what thrills me most about bike racing? When riders seize their chance, throw fear to the wall and just RIDE. I got my fix in spades on these final stages. BinckBank Tour and Arctic Race of Norway – I salute you!