Nine days of racing, and the Tour de France has reached the first rest day. The Yellow Jersey has been worn by four different people, four stages were won with pretty spectacular solo breakaways, and all top ten riders in the General Classification are a minute and one second apart. (Actually Teejay VanGarderen is 11th with the same time as Alejandro Valverde in 10th.)
A pretty good start I would say. Mark Cavendish won on the first day and took the Yellow Jersey for the first time in his career. The next day World Champion Peter Sagan won the stage and took over the race leader’s jersey. The so called curse of the Rainbow Stripes does not seem to affect Sagan.
Peter Sagan would wear yellow for three days until Greg VanAvermaet won Stage 5 with a long solo breakaway that took over five minutes out of everyone else. Enough of a lead to allow the Belgian rider to hang on to the lead for three more days, even though he is not noted as a climber.
Stage 7 was won by British rider Steve Cummings with another solo break. VanAvermaet came in 5th that day and actually took more time out of the top contenders, but he would lose it all the following day.
Stage 8: The first big mountain stage that went over four major climbs, including the Col du Tourmalet. However, it was on the descent from the final climb of the Col de Peyresourde to the finish, that Chris Froome took 13 seconds out of the second place rider, to take the Yellow Jersey.
Stage 9 was held in torrential rain. Tom DuMoulin gave us another solo victory, while the GC contenders duked it out further down the mountain. Chris Froome attacked several times, and Nario Quintana seemed to follow him each time with comparative ease. But Quintana never attacked himself, and when Dan Martin, Adam Yates, or Richie Porte attacked the Colombian let Froome do the chasing.
I think Quintana is holding back to see if Froome breaks later on in the race. Dan Martin is an exciting attacking rider, so I don’t rule him out for a podium place. Adam Yates too could be near the top, and he must surely be a future TDF winner.
Richie Porte is climbing well but is over two minutes down in 18th place. He is gradually clawing his way back to the top ten after losing 1 min. 45 sec. with a puncture near the end of stage 3. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Aussie in or near a podium spot.
Whatever happens, I am looking forward to the rest of it. What say you?
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