Take back what I said yesterday, perhaps the Tour isn’t all over bar the champagne drinking on the final stage. Today seemed prove that the Sky team of 2013 aren’t the race crushing robo-team of 2012.
It is probably Garmin-Sharp carrying out their preannounced plan to cause chaos that is at least partly to blame. On the attack from the gun with David Millar and Jack Bauer riding a two-up time trial into the first climb, and featuring in every move including the winning one. They broke the race apart.
This left Chris Froome in the front group with most of the Movistar team for company, but a distinct lack of black and blue jerseys to help him. This happened with about 140 km and four cols left to race.
Richie Porte tried valiantly to get back on but Movistar kept the pace high on the Col de Peyresourde to make sure that he didn’t and he eventually sat up. Movistar had the advantage in numbers but didn’t seem to know what to do with them. Admittedly the stage with its 30km down-hill run to the finish was never going to be a one where a decisive gap could be forged, but I thought they could have done more than a couple of attacks from Niaro Quintana. Perhaps Valverde couldn’t attack. Froome covered all the attacks fairly easily and at one point decided to half-wheel Quintana just to make the point.
Round about the point where Movistar, or to be more precise Quintana gave up trying to drop Froome an Irish Brummie, Dan Martin, set off up the road, with about 4km left to the top of La Hourquette d’Anzican. Jacob Fuglsang(Astana) joined him. Working well together the pair quickly established a reasonable though never completely decisive lead. At about 5km to go the impetus went out of the chase and it became obvious that the stage would be won my one of them. Dan Martin, who is probably the better sprinter out of the two, judged it perfectly leading into the bend at 250m to go and taking it out from there.
What did I learn from today’s stage?
- Garmin will mix it up and try things to win stages. This could cause problems for the teams whose focus is the GC.
- I don’t think that Valverde has quite got what it takes to unseat Froome.
- Like wise Contador.
- Although the could both have just been keeping their powder dry.
- Nairo Quintana might have, but is going to have to get a lot smarter.
- Chris Froome might have to win this tour on his own.
- Oh and some Scottish bloke who looks a bit like David Millar won Wimbledon