As the sun sets on the 104th edition of the Tour de France why not look back on the last three weeks that were filled with drama and excitement.
Rider of the Tour: Chris Froome
There is only one winner when it comes to rider of the Tour and that is of course the overall winner Chris Froome. Admittedly Froome is aided by the sheer strength of Team Sky and his domestiques. The likes of Luke Rowe, Vasil Kiryienka, Michal Kwiatkowski and Mikel Nieve gave 110% each day in order to help Froome secure his fourth yellow jersey.
That being said Froome showed he has what it takes even without his teammates. The individual time trial in Marseille saw Froome finish third overall but his time-trialling skills were immense and ultimately proved the difference between him and the rest of the GC contenders.
Rising star: Lilian Calmejean
Lilian Calmejean stormed to stage 8 victory after making a solo breakaway with 17 kilometres to go. The 24-year-old almost came to a standstill with 5km to go when his legs began to cramp but this minor blip wouldn’t stop the Frenchman from claiming glory. Calmejean is one of a number of French riders who have impressed this year and his stunning performance during the first week of the Tour will certainly see him attract attention from larger teams. Watch this space.
Most courageous rider: Daniel Martin
Daniel ‘Dan’ Martin’s Tour de France got off to a fantastic start. Stage three saw the Irishman finish third in a bunch sprint only beaten by world champion Peter Sagan and eventual green jersey winner Michael Matthews. Stage 5 saw the Quick-Step rider climb to second place beaten to first by Italian Fabio Aru who had launched a solo assault on the final climb.
His Tour was turned upside down on stage 9. On the decent of the final climb Martin found himself on the tarmac. BMC rider Richie Porte left the road and as the Australian headed towards the rocky mountainside he took Martin with him. This high-speed crash ended Porte’s Tour leaving him with a broken pelvis. Martin remarkably got back on his bike and finished just 1 minute and 15 seconds down on the yellow jersey group.
A rest day followed that horrific crash but the effects were evident during the second week. Martin was unable to cycle out of the saddle due to the pain it caused his back. The pain was clear for all to see after a flat stage. As he dismounted and hobbled towards the team bus it was obvious he was still feeling the effects of the crash.
Despite numerous setbacks caused by a lack of team support Martin continued to attack the GC contenders. Martin was still a marked man and his many attacks in the Alps were quashed by Team Sky. He finished 6th overall which is a career best but he takes the most courageous rider in my book due to the sheer determination he showed to continue after such a heavy crash.
One to watch: Warren Barguil
The revelation of this year’s Tour has to be the King of the Mountains Warren Barguil. The 25-year-old Frenchman earned the admiration of the French public when he took victory on Bastille Day beating Alberto Contador in a sprint to the line. The rider who hails from Brittany never looked like losing the polka dot jersey once he claimed it. He showed determination to earn as many points as possible and showed his ambition when he battled to stage 18 glory atop the legendary Col d’Izoard.
Barguil has stated he doesn’t think he will ever win the Tour but many pundits believe he has what it takes. He was also awarded the title of ‘Super-Combative’. Barguil has a bright future ahead and is certainly one to watch.
Best Stage: Stage 12 Pau to Peyragudes
Stage 12 had it all. A mountain top finish was destined to shake up the GC but nobody expected Chris Froome to falter as much as he did. Team Sky worked hard on the testing climb with Mikel Landa delivering Froome at the base of the airstrip. Those final 250 meters saw Frenchman Romain Bardet claim the stage victory but the real story saw Fabio Aru take the yellow jersey from Froome.
The defending champion was reduced to zig-zagging up the final 100 meters. The shock this finish provided gave the Tour a much-needed boost and also saw history made: it was the first time Team Sky lost control of the yellow jersey. This stage began a chain of events that led to Froome’s eventual victory but it also displayed his frailties.
Most controversial moment: The disqualification of Peter Sagan
Stage four saw a sprint finish like no other. Wold champion and winner of stage three Peter Sagan was disqualified from the Tour after he was deemed to have intentionally elbowed Mark Cavendish during the sprint. The incident saw Cavendish break his collarbone ending his Tour.
The incident caused much debate some believed Cavendish was foolish to attempt to pass in such a narrow space but the decision ultimately fell to Philippe Marien, the head UCI commissaire who sent Sagan packing. The Slovakian won the green jersey five years in a row spanning from 2012 to 2016 but his quest for six in a row was ended by his elbow.
Honourable mentions: Mikel Landa and Marcel Kittel
Team Sky’s Mikel Landa deserves a special mention for his phenomenal performances during the Tour. The Basque rider finished fourth overall just one second behind Romain Bardet. Following his strong showing at the Giro d’Italia where he took the King of the Mountains jersey Landa made it clear that he is a serious contender in the GC.
The 27-year-old is far too good to merely act as a domestique and it is strongly reported he will leave team Sky in order to achieve his ambition of winning a grand tour. When asked if he could win this years Tour he replied “I have the legs but not the stripes to do so.” If he was with any other team he may well have taken the yellow jersey but he did his job impeccably well for Froome.
Ettix Quick-Step’s Marcel Kittel won five stages of this year’s Tour and was the favourite to take the green jersey. However disaster struck in the final week. Coming under increasing pressure from Team Sunweb’s Michael Matthews Kittel found himself in a battle for the green jersey. This late charge combined with illness saw the German’s Tour end in tears. A fall early on in stage 17 injured the sprinter’s shoulder with the pain too much for him to continue.
It was sad to see his Tour end in such circumstances but to take five stages in a single Tour deserves special mention. He will no doubt return next year to do battle with the likes of Matthews and Peter Sagan for green.
The Tour de France captivates audiences each July and this year was now exception. The long wait for the Tour begins once again but the Vuelta a España starts on the 19th of August and will feature names such as Froome and Alberto Contador. It won’t be the same as the Tour but it promises to bring more top class cycling to our television screens.
2017 Tour de France jersey winners;
- Yellow jersey – Chris Froome (Team Sky)
- Green jersey – Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)
- White jersey – Simon Yates (Orica-Scott)
- Polka dot jersey – Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb)