Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana on Mont Ventoux
On stage 15, Chris Froome won cycling. I don’t mean he won at cycling, as in winning a race. I mean that even if he doesn’t go on to win the Tour, he won the sport of cycling.
The longest stage for 13 years, the 100th Tour de France, a stage finish atop Mont Ventoux, on Bastille Day and he finished first while wearing the yellow jersey. That is pretty much cycling perfection.
There were almost 220km to get the legs warmed up before Mont Ventoux. Peter Sagan got into the break and claimed the 20 points available at the intermediate sprint. After that, he eased off and even found time to do some one-handed wheelies just before the peloton swallowed him up.
Wheelies are just one of Sagan’s tricks. Here’s how he parks his bike. You’ve got to love him.
No, I mean that literally. You actually do.
Nairo Quintana’s attack
Once the climb had begun, Nairo Quintana took off and quickly overhauled all of the day’s breakaway riders. Once again, he looked like doing so required precisely no effort whatsoever, but I’ll come back to that in a second.
Behind him, the whittling was taking place and riders were dropping off the back in a steady stream. When Richie Porte took a turn on the front, the lead group pretty much disintegrated and when there was just Porte, Froome and Alberto Contador present, Froome decided it was time to accelerate. For a second, Contador stayed with him, but then suddenly, in the space of a single corner, he disappeared from view as Froome’s manic seated pedalling took him away.
Froome v Quintana
Soon enough, Froome made contact with Quintana, but the Colombian wasn’t going down without a blank-faced fight. Froome attacked a couple of times, but Quintana responded, again looking like this demanded no effort. But the blank face was a red herring. Eventually he couldn’t follow any longer, his face betraying nothing even as Froome slid away from him.
I think we can safely say that Nairo Quintana has a non-expressive face. This was confirmed at the presentation ceremony when he still bore that same facial expression when receiving the white jersey for best young rider as well as for a subsequent interview.
Obviously, everyone lost time to Froome, but Joaquim Rodriguez finally showed his face, overtaking a bunch of people in the final kilometre or so to finish fourth. He’s eighth overall and while the yellow jersey is out of reach, perhaps he’s coming into form in time for the mountainous final week. Watch out for him. He’s fun.
Has Chris Froome won the 2013 Tour de France
No. There’s broken collarbones to be evaded, if nothing else. There’s also one final riding quality he still needs to display. We knew he could climb and time trial and on the race’s longest stage, he has proven his stamina as well. The final test is recovery. The mountain stages come one on top of another in the final week, so one day’s effort can have an impact the next day. You wouldn’t bet against him on current form though.
Rest day on Monday
I should probably do some sort of summary or a list of quirky highlights or something. More likely I’ll do sod all.