Another Tour de France has come and go with relative fanfare.
Relative is the operable word as you had to look elsewhere other than from overall competitiveness. Froome ran away with the GC at 103rd Edition and there was no looking back.
Fortunately, after three weeks of frolicking along this European Vacation we did get a series of unusual moments, enough that once again, I’ll be handing out awards:
AAA Membership Award – One of the most sour story lines in the Tour happened early when Richie Porte flatted with just 6km in the relatively tame Stage 2. The timing was awful, as would have been awarded the same time as the field had he been within the 3km mark. The neutral support car fumbled Porte’s tire change and no Team BMC teammates stayed back to switch bikes with him. The result: Porte lost roughly two minutes to the field and finished 5th in the GC instead of 2nd.
Golden Girls Theme Song Award – The Tour de France gets to say “Thank You for Being a Friend” to the retiring Fabian Cancellara. Spartacus has a recent history of abandoning Grand Tours early, but with the race rolling through his hometown of Berne during the third week, Cancellara held on to finish 6th on Stage 16. He departed out of Berne on the next raceday, but what happened on the following stage which was just a 17km time trial? Let’s just say he went back to Berne.
Will Froome be joining Sagan in the Classics?
Best TDF Costume for 2017 – That was be a helmet & Team Sky jersey in yellow so you can run alongside Chris Froome. In one of the most bizarre moments in Tour de France history, Richie Porte’s collision into a stopped motorcycle set off an unusual chain of events. Froome was left with an unusable bike after being involved in the pile up caused by the added density of fans from of the shortening from this Mont Ventoux stage. Froome panicked and went Forrest Gump running with good form like Lance Armstrong(who’s been banned from doing marathons too). After being given a bike with mismatching pedals from neutral support, Froome finally was handed a proper bike, but in one of those outcomes than can only happen in cycling, Froome was awarded the same time as contender Bauke Mollema, controversially keeping him in the yellow jersey.
Crossfit may be a thing Award – It’s no secret that Marc Cavendish desperately wanted to race track in the Olympics, but the looming question over the Tour was not when he’d retire from the race, but when. After winning an impressive three stages in the first week, the Manx Missile stuck it over the mountain stages through the Pyrenees and Mont Ventoux to take another win on stage 14. Maybe we’ll see more fixie riders in the Tour someday?
Flashback Award – Goes to the number of riders we thought would make this race interesting, but didn’t. Tejay van Garderen had a solid, consistant fade in the final week that left him all the way down at 29th, but at least he finished one spot ahead of former winner Vincenzo Nibali. Fabiano Aru looked to make his mark, but ended up 13th. Alberto Contador retired early from a crash or poor form(it might be the former) and Nairo Quintana who had been the bridesmaid to Froome’s two previous victories, never mounted any solid attacks and ended 3rd.
If High Speed Rail in California Could be this Efficient Award – We can point to Froome’s dominance in this race, but Team Sky just imposes their will on the field setting the pace and hunting down any rider who tries to escape. Sergio Henao, Geraint Thomas and Mike Nieve all finished in the top 17, despite the fact that their days were over early after putting work in for Froome. Who doesn’t want to be part of that train?
Stripes / Yellow / Green is my Favorite Color – Starting off the race in his world champion jersey, Peter Sagan held the yellow jersey after Stage Two making CiclaValley proud as one of my predictions coming true. He transferred to the green jersey after rival Greg van Avermaet took Stage Five and lost it the following day to the surging Mark Cavendish. Sagan retained the jersey on Stage 10 and won his first TDF Stage in two years the following day where he practically sealed up his 5th consecutive green jersey.
Marcel Kittel entering the frisbee competition(photo: Eurosport)
Damn / Praise These Bike Changes Award – On the final stage, it was funny to watch how sprint contenders Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel handled their bike changes. Both were looking for the proper bike come the finish, but Kittel, who had never lost on the Champ Elysees, got a bike than wouldn’t spin and a tire than was holding air. Greipel on the other hand kept his calm, formed an effective train and edged out for the victory. This must be a proud/disappointing day in Germany.
I’m Getting Bored with This Award – We were all waiting for Stage 9 for Froome to assert his dominance on the hills while the day before, he decided to catch everyone sleeping on descent gaining thirteen seconds and the yellow jersey. Then on Stage 11, Froome decides to form a four man breakaway group with Peter Sagan fighting the wind over the last 15km. Although he gained another 12 seconds on the field, it was a hell of an effort that could have made him pay. Froome did end up winning by over four minutes.