Nothing like a good stereotype to get the creative juices flowing. First of all apologies for the lateness of the report. The stage finished late here in France and I could not be rude and desert my hosts, and my wine, to write a report. Not sure who watched the final stage but it was a perfect end to a fantastic tour as the late evening light washed over the monuments of Paris. The cobbles of the Champs-Élysées looked to be paved in gold, which they were, metaphorically , for Egan Bernal, as he secured his, and Colombia’s first ever Maillot Jeune.
The stage followed the usual script of champagne, media stuff, arrive in Paris, small break goes, sprinters bring it back on the last lap, classic Champs-Élysées sprint. Ewan was the form sprinter coming into the final stage, so it all depended on how he got through the mountains. Maybe the shortening of the previous 2 mountain stages saved his legs. Plus I read that Lotto sent 6 guys back to him when he was struggling in the Pyrenees, on a day when he could have been out of the Tour. I wonder how much that changed his mindset as he won every sprint from that point, including the sprinters world championship in Paris. I had my money on Viviani, but I suspect the work DQS did for Alaphilippe took it’s toll on the team. Dylan Groenewegen already know how to win here, and it was a dramatic arial view with both him and Ewan sweeping past the 3 front guys, one on the left and one on the right, to dive for the line. Once again Ewan got the better of the Cloggie. Matthews was unlucky getting a mechanical with 10km to go. He got back on, but that effort took the sting out of his sprint.
Some observations on my part.
Alaphilippe was the one of the French heros in this edition. 2 stage wins, and 14 days in Yellow. He battled every day in the Alps, but in the end was found wanting, but he secured the most combative prize to get his spot on the podium.
The Tour was over when Thibaut Pinot climbed off his bike. To me he looked to be the only one to offer a challenge to the Ineos duo. A super stage win, and the respect of cycling fans around the world were his rewards.
Thomas was all class in handing the mantel to his young teammate. Bernal acknowledged him on the podium saying “Thanks to G for the opportunity”. I wonder if G just felt he didn’t quite have the form and was vulnerable to being attacked by the riders a few seconds behind him. Sending Bernal up the road on the way to Tignes, ensured that Ineos would win, and ensured him of a podium place in the end.
Bernal is looking to be the dominant rider of the next few years, and he is only 22. Had the stage to Tignes not been cancelled he would probably have won alone at the top of the climb, and possibly had enough points to win the mountains classification as well. It is going to be interesting if Froome comes back, to see what Ineos do, with 3 bona fides team leaders, all Tour de France winners.
Breaking down the stages, big winners were Michelton Scott, Jumbo Visma and Lotto all with 4 stage wins each. Jumbo also had Kruijswijk on the podium. Michelton need to think about which Yates twin might be the best for the Tour de France. DQS had 3 stage wins, Yellow jersey for 14 days and the most combative rider prize. Bahrain 2 stages, which has to be seen as a bonus. I would have expected nothing from them based on the inner tormoils of the team. A fitting end to Nibali’s career maybe? Bora, 1 stage, green Jersey and an emerging Buchmann in 4th place. FDJ and Movistar 1 stage each with the latter getting the team prize. They really need to come into the tour with a better strategy, although the two pronged attack works for Ineos. Maybe there is too much Spanish hot-headed stuff going on.
Ineos came away with 2 jerseys, Yellow and White to Bernal and a 1:2 on the podium and officially did not win a stage. Although Bernal was robbed by the French weather gods saving Alaphilippe on the road to Tignes.
Enough rambling. As we do the final stage counts in the comp we see no change in the top 3. However I expect that to change when I tally the jersey points. Big mover in the top 20, making a push for the top is Spartacus, up 15 places to 16th. Big mover, up 55 places, is The Green Machine, to sit mid table with little chance of anything other than a mention in my report. No change in the bottom 5 as Rusty Dog holds firm. Looking at his team, I think he might have sewn up the lantern rouge, but we will know that tomorrow…