Best of the 2015 Tour de France
Everyone loves a best of.
French TV coverage is lingering on two Frenchmen at the head of the race. The two young climbers who have laid waste to the break on the steep final climb of the Côte de la Croix Neuve watch each other closely. They have to play this carefully. One of them is going to win the hearts of the nation by winning stage 13 and the other will not.
Oh, wait. Was that Steve Cummings who just barrelled past as if he had some place he urgently needed to be? Where did he come from?
You’re riding alongside the guy who’s about to win the Tour de France. He’s about to cross the line. You nip past him.
Beautifully pointless and so perfectly, perfectly Valverde.
Ignore the fact that he crashed out of the race two days later with a broken collarbone, Tony Martin’s story ended when he finally secured the yellow jersey.
Odds-on to win the opening time trial, Martin came second and missed out on the race lead by five seconds. Had Mark Cavendish managed third instead of fourth on stage two, thus denying Fabian Cancellara bonus seconds, Martin would have been in the lead – instead, he remained second, but to a different rider, now by just three seconds.
When Cancellara crashed on stage three, Martin again had a chance to take the jersey, but Chris Froome was too quick, so come the start of stage four he found himself just one second away from the lead. This minuscule gap probably felt like it might as well have been a year for all the likelihood of him closing it.
But then, in the closing kilometres of a cobbled stage on which he wasn’t really supposed to feature prominently, the peloton slowed and Tony Martin, thought ‘fuck it’. He attacked and when Tony Martin attacks, you don’t give him too much of a gap. At the end of the day, he got to change his clothes and you can’t say he hadn’t earnt it.
They should have cobbles in the Tour de France every year, purely so we could delight in repeated Gallic hissy fits from Thibaut Pinot.
He flounced, he gesticulated, he bounced his bike up and down. Regardless of mechanical problems, he did everything in his power to sabotage his own general classification hopes because that was the only way the world would understand how gosh-darned cross he was. Magic.
Best bridesmaid – Peter Sagan
Last year I wrote:
He may have won the points competition, but he ended up with no stage wins and more sad seconds than one of those warehouses where families sell off the threadbare furniture of the recently deceased.