“ As others have said, thanks for the Tour coverage,” says Gilman Miller. “I’m no tour historian but my general observations on what made this tour stand out are, first, only one individual time trial and not a terribly long one (this helped Egan limit his losses, and meant that time trialing was not the most valuable skill in determining the winner), the team time trial is stupid, and I would expect and hope that future tours will have a couple time trials again. Second, the Alps/final mountain stage coming right at the end meant that so much more was in balance till the end, I feel like in most past tours the last few days before Paris have been without mountain drama. Third, I think that because JA was not considered a GC threat he was allowed to gain more time than was wise at the outset, and because he climbs pretty well and time trials very well, he managed to hang on to it longer than anyone imagined. Fourth, Froome’s injury seemingly made Ineos less dominant, and Ineos still had to deal with a two-headed team leader, which led to confusion, and less dominance, no real boss of the tour and its pace. Imagine if Froome was there and the two leaders were him and G, with Egan left to be their super mountain helper, following team orders and not pursuing his own glory?”
Nicely done. We had a teacher at school called Mr Gilman, and he was once on what was known as bus-stop duty. This involved making sure everyone – and we’re talking around 1000 kids – got onto buses going down Camden Road in orderly fashion. Part of the job was also making sure members of the public were allowed to get on first, and he once ushered someone on, who took exception to the effrontery of being told what he could do. So he gave him a slap. I’d like to say no one laughed.
“I used to be in the overrated camp,” says Michael Ireton of Paris. ‘Then I studied art and architectural history. Now firmly–VERY firmly–in the great city camp. So much art and architecture to see, from age-old to cutting edge contemporary.”
I think it was doing A-level European history post-1814 that did it for me, then doing revolution stuff at university. There’s such a sense of serious stuff having happened on the streets.
Steven Kruijswijk is pretty chuffed with his third place. “A great feeling,” he says.
“Today’s not the day for a punch-up,” says Drew Goldie, “so apologies for this, but if Guy Hornsby didn’t think last year’s Tour was gripping (vis. his reference to Thomas’s speech) I think he’s missing out. The race up to La Rosiere when Thomas took yellow was amazing; and throughout the race no-one – not Froome/Thomas/Sky/their opponents, especially Du Moulin, and me – knew if Froome would eventually fire, and the tension was wonderful. I actually thought Du Moulin might exploit the Sky uncertainty, but it turned out that Thomas exploited Du Moulin’s. Add the usual baffling Movistar tactics, and the permutations were endless. I know it’s fashionable, and very correct, to bemoan the Sky years, and only good manners has prevented most from cheering that Froome’s not here, but last year’s race was compelling.”
It’s always the day for a punch-up.
Just over 100km to go. Dey Bardet, king of the mountains, takes some congratulations.
Paris, then. Overrated, or one of the greatest cities in the world? I’m the former and my missus is closer to the latter. I’d agree with her that the food is overrated – too rich, too bland – but the history is so emotionally overwhelming and there are very few cities of which that can be said.
“Thanks to the Guardian live blog team,” says the Costa Brava’s Gareth Thomas. “As I’m watching the TDF in a bar, it’s too noisy to hear the Spanish commentator. With the visuals on the big screen, the commentary from the Guardian live blog, and of course a cold beer, it all works fine!”
I just had a swing of water in my north London box room, so we’re in the same zone.
I have a friend who reckons that Bernal’s Colombia is the greatest country in South America. I find it hard to see how anywhere can be better than Brazil (the obvious criticism ignored for a moment). Am I wrong?
WARNING: minor Anglo-Saxon.
“He didn’t really get ‘that’ close,” tweets Jeremy CP. “Full stages yesterday and Friday and he may have been 10-20+ minutes down. For a Frenchman, talk about Pinot not Alaphilippe.”
Yes, fair enough.
Wiggins is with Brailsford, who says winning never gets old, and agrees that Bernal’s maturity exceeds his age. It’s extremely revealing stuff.
“This has honestly been the most enjoyable Tour for many many years,” reckons Guy Hornsby. “And I say this as a huge British cycling fan who’s been spoilt with a cavalcade of victories in Grand Tours since Wiggins broke through. While those were massive for cycling, the means in which they were achieved were seldom memorable, even with G last year (his winner’s speech was probably the highlight of the race). Sky’s dominance sapped so much enjoyment out of those wins. But this year they struggled to control things, and the race erupted into flamboyance, chaos and attacks, with a leader no one foresaw and a winner most didn’t expect for a few years. It’s almost a shame he’s part of the Ineos machine, but perhaps he wouldn’t have won without it. So thanks for the panache, Julien, the effort G, the climbs Pinot, and the skills, Egan. What a win. Thanks for you lot all too, for making the MBM such fun. My money’s on Caleb Ewan next.”
Yes, agreed – sport needs jeopardy.
“Hello Daniel,” says Alan Amos. With regard to your comment, ‘I wonder if Alaphilippe can make the necessary improvements between now and next term, or if it’s just a physiological hurdle that he’ll never overcome’: Would he want to try? As far as I can see it, neither he nor his team were aiming at GC in this Tour, nor have Quick-Step had a rider that was capable of taking on such a challenge in the decades that the team has existed. To radically change the aims of the team towards GC in a grand tour for next year would be such a change I couldn’t imagine it happening: at the same time, I can’t see Alaphilippe leaving them. We’ll see what happens next…”
Yes, but he got so close – I know he sort of said he never thought it was on, but the way he responded on the first Alp stage suggested to the contrary. Once people have had a taste…
What could they do to make this stage more of a thing and less of a jaunt? Wild animals en route?
Sagan photobombs Bernal and Ineos’ moment, then they raise glasses and guzzle.
Bernal has another, and Thomas enjoys one too. More news as I get it.
We see it slowmo and actually that’s a pretty good neck from yerman, hurled straight down, no fuss.
Bernal has champagne in his hand, and clinks flute with whoever’s in the car next to him. He sees it away, lad that he is.
Wiggins says the bonhomie on this stage gets boring after a bit. “You just wanna race.”
I wonder if Alaphilippe can make the necessary improvements between now and next term, or if it’s just a physiological hurdle that he’ll never overcome.
It’s another belting day in France, after that little mountain interlude. Bernal and Alaphilippe blather togather, which is nice to see.
Off they head to the start. Bernal looks pretty relaxed, all things considered.
It’s been an absolutely vintage Tour, packed with all manner of drama, desolation and controversy – an absolute joy, basically. And in Egan Bernal, cycling has a popular and deserving winner who might just take the sport to new people and places. He’ll enjoy a relaxing little jaunt into Paris this evening, while the sprinters do the work and we blather blather to each other.
Start: 5.10pm BST, 6.10pm local time.