It always looked like it was going to be a cracking stage. With the climb of the Col de Peyresourde to soften the riders up, followed by a 4km descent and then a 2km nasty climb that reared up to 20 percent, fireworks were going to go off in the last 300m. Matthews had another cracking day for his Sunweb team. He took the intermediate sprint from Kittle to claw back 3 of the 133 points he was behind in the green jersey comp. If only the tour was 6 months long he might get the jersey! But he hung around in the break and took the sprint for the next mountain points to ensure no one could take the mountains jersey off his team mate Barguil. Trugarez vras Matthews!
Stephen Cummings, the most awkward looking guy on the podium, took off on the final climb on one of his famous solo breakaways. At this point I fell asleep for a few km only to wake up about 1km from the top, at which point Cummings had already been caught. Not sure what happened, I was cruising along on the couch in control of my TV watching and then bang, dropped, eyes closed. Anyway, by the top there were the usual suspects, the top 10 of the tour. Quick descent which saw Froome and Aru try and follow Landa into a picnic area off the side of the road, not sure why maybe hungry, but the rest of the field slowed down to let them catch up… Idiots. I suspect they were all saving themselves for the final 300m vertical wall. When it came, Bardet launched, then Aru, Martin, Uran and Froome struggled to follow. Landa left him behind to grab 4th, and for some reason the press are speculating about this. What can Landa do, push Froome? There is no headwind on a 20% gradient, Froome can only go as fast as his own legs will carry him. Maybe Landa was trying to stop other getting bonus seconds, or maybe, as he is leaving Sky, he is putting his resume out there… In the end the likable, always attacking, Frenchman, Bardet took the win, although one day early for Bastille day celebrations. Don’t be surprised to see him attack on the descent tonight. He is probably the best descender in the race, so it could be more carnage if the others try and follow him.
Uran and Kiwi Bennett were docked 20 seconds for taking water from the side of the road in the last 20km. Apparently Bardet did as well, but the referee apparently did not see Bardet drink it, so he escaped the fine. Makes you wonder if the commissars are colluding to give Bardet as big a chance to win as possible. This is nothing to do with Bardet, but the UCI do seem to be making some odd decisions in this years Tour.
Heard a funny story from one of my Seppo mates from when Bennett was interviewed on the US TV after the stage. Apparently Bennett was riding next to Froome in the final stages when he heard in Froome’s radio earpiece, “go faster”, so he punched Froome in the leg and said “Bugger off, keep it the same”.
Some small shuffling in the comp as Mrs Spunker proved she is not done yet, having Bardet in her team this week. She jumped over Heartthrobs01. No change at the bottom as Snicko 5 keeps the Lantern Rouge for another day, although he is closing in on 2nd last place. Big mover was Team Lurch up 54 spots to break into the top 200 at 164th.
Today is the Bastille day stage, so the team with the most points gets a prize I think, will need to go read the rules…