I’ve written here about my love of watching cycling grand tours on TV. There are three European grand tours – cycle races that, unbelievably, last for three weeks. The grand tour season begins with the Giro d’Italia, followed by the Tour de France, and ending with the Vuelta d’España.
The reason I’m writing about cycling is that Chris Froome yesterday won the Giro d’Italia in spectacular fashion. Froome is only the third man, after legendary pair Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, to hold cycling’s three most prestigious races at the same time.
The race was hugely exciting, with Britain’s Simon Yates wearing the leaders pink jersey for two weeks and winning three stages, only for him to run out of energy towards the end of the third week. My wife rolled her eyes when I said that I’d be glued to the TV for the Tour de France.
Yesterday in Madrid Chris Froome won the Vuelta a España – aka the Tour of Spain cycle race, after three gruelling weeks of mountain climbs.
It’s truly an extraordinary achievement. Not only did Chris Froome win the Tour of France cycle race in August, he’s the first person to win the the Vuelta when it follows the Tour of France. The only other two winners of both grand cycle tours in a year were when the Vuelta preceded the Tour of France by many months.
This year is the first I’ve consistently watched the Vuelta highlights every evening on ITV4. While the Tour de France has days rolling through lovely flat French countryside, this year’s Vuelta, especially, consisted of successive brutal mountain stages.
Saying, well done Chris Froome, doesn’t say enough about his enormous achievement. Got to be this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
I’ve become so attached to the Tour de France on ITV4 that’ll I’m already thinking of ways of overcoming the withdrawal symptoms. So much so that I’ve stuff planned for tommorrow and a family away day on Tuesday. Should’ve broken the habit by then.
I say a Le Tour wrap up, well, there’s not much more to say. Chris Froome was imperious, and justly deserves his fourth win of the tour. My stage prediction was typically half correct – well, wrong really. Stating that Chris Froome would win was blindingly obvious. As to the Andre Greipel as the stage winner, he came in a distant second. Second isn’t first, so Greipel and his Lotto Soudal team came away empty handed from the tour.
British cycling is in a good place, the two in the middle of the photo are British, another Australian and Frenchman on the left.
Who knew that an uphill cycling race stage would be so exciting. Yesterday in the Tour de France the handful of leaders battled it out to gain time over their rivals. Some succeeded, some not.
The winner in yesterday’s brutal mountain stage was Primoz Roglic, an unheralded rider who raced solo up the final mountain and crossed the finish line over a minute ahead of the race leaders.
The race is now between three riders, Chris Froome the race leader, and two joint second place riders, Rigoberto Uran and Romain Bardet. The previous second place rider, Fabio Aru, lost time, and is now fourth.
My predictions yesterday weren’t too far out. But then we’re into the final stages of the race so one would expect the leaders to show.
My thoughts on Stage 18,
- Today is the defining stage of the tour, where any weaknesses will be uncovered. The mountain top finish on a huge climb means that significant time can be lost or gained. See the stage profile below to see how harsh.
- Chris Froome is my choice to remain the tour leader, though by what time margin I can’t imagine.
- Maybe there’ll be a breakaway again today, though I can’t see anyone doing what Roglic did yesterday. Therefore, the finish will be like stage 17.
Been out for a longish walk. I was passed by a number of mountain bikers whooshing past without any sign of recognition. Not a smile, wave or even a nod. Now, when walkers pass one another, there’s mostly, though not always, a ‘good day’, a smile, a nod, or even a raised hand in a wave.
Is it because mountain bikers are selfish self-absorbed people? I’d be hard put to argue against it. I’ve seen racers in the Tour de France wave in acknowledgement to spectators, and they’re racing. So, if you’re a mountain biker hurtling down the track alongside Red Road, just think for a moment that the track is shared by others, to whom the normal human courtesies apply.
PS. Photo is public domain, not of any biker I’ve seen.
It was just before 2.0 pm yesterday afternoon that I switched on ITV4 for the live coverage of the Tour de France. Following watching for a 10 minutes or so – I managed to then come back to the live coverage after 3.0pm. See, I’m getting better at restricting myself.
About my predictions for the Stage 3 outcome yesterday, I’m pleased I correctly predicted the result of the stage win and overall tour leader. Wasn’t too hard. Peter Sagan was the favourite for the stage, and Geraint Thomas and the sky team weren’t going to let go of the overall lead.
Now, as regards, my prediction for today’s stage, it’s much more difficult. It’s a sprinters stage. The peloton will control the race, keeping breakaways under control. There are many sprinters who’ll consider their chances, Marcel Kittel, obviously, Andre Greipel, Michael Matthews, Arnaud Demare, and Mark Cavendish.
- Geraint Thomas to retain the overall lead, just. Sky are such a strong team, and Thomas’s desire to retain the lead will ensure that.
- Stage winner: Mark Cavendish. It’ll be a manic bunch sprint to the line. The winner will be the team best able to control the final 500 metres. This is what Cavendish’s team are good at. Although Kittel’s Quick – Step Floors are also as good.
- Also, I think there’s every chance of a crash in the final miles, as the teams jostle for advantage.
I’ve settled on my schedule for watching the Tour de France on TV. It’s not to begin sitting in front of the TV until after 2.0pm. If I miss the live action, there’s always the summary from 7.0 to 8.0pm.
Yesterday, I dragged myself away for some essential gardening. Today, I’ve other plans.
Ok, schedule set. So, how did my thoughts on yesterday pan out. Not too far off, actually. Geraint Thomas retained the overall tour lead, and Mark Cavendish made a strong attempt to win the stage, coming in fourth.
What do I think today’s likely outcome.
- Peter Sagan for the stage win
- Geraint Thomas to retain the overall lead. Having got it the yellow jersey, methinks the Sky team will want Geraint to keep it for another day.