Chris Froome still intact | First Rest Day Wrap
The Rest Day Wrap is my attempt to give an overview of where things stand in the Tour de France. It’s less about stage wins and focuses instead on the general classification, which is the overall race.
The first week of this year’s Tour de France was heavy on 200km flat stages, none of which did anything to separate the overall contenders – although one of them did rather dramatically separate Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan from the race.
However, you don’t get through three weeks of racing without something of significance taking place in the battle for yellow.
Geraint Thomas was the first rider to clamber into the jaundiced jersey, but the big news on Stage 1 was Alejandro Valverde overcooking it on a wet corner before bringing himself to a gentle halt via the not-at-all-recommended method of jabbing his kneecap into a metal barrier with his entire weight behind it.
14km into the race, we were already one overall contender down.
Most Tours de France are decided on some combination of time trials and climbs. We’d kicked off with the former and stage five was our first proper encounter with the latter.
Fabio Aru flapped from side to side to great effect and took the stage win, vaulting up the overall standings to third. Geraint Thomas couldn’t hack the pace and slipped to second. Chris Froome was close enough to Aru that he took the yellow jersey.
I’ve never been a fan of downhill racing. It’s undeniably gripping – but racers tend to push each other until their tyres no longer are. People get hurt.
Geraint Thomas is now quite possibly two-thirds of the way towards meeting a goal of crashing out of all three grand tours in one year.
He came off the road on stage eight and found himself with a ‘hay bale or the woods?’ decision. He opted for the former and emerged intact. On stage nine he couldn’t find anything soft after Rafal Majka had gone down in front of him and ended up breaking his collarbone.
The Welshman must surely by now be resigned to being one of life’s crashers. Maybe it’s infectious. His bike hit Dan Martin’s handlebars, but the Irishman survived to enjoy further falls.
Next to hit the deck was Richie Porte. He suffered a hideous tumble after he and his bike parted ways on the inside of a corner. He hit road, Dan Martin’s bike hit him, and then he hit a rock face for good measure.
Martin picked himself up, only to crash again a kilometre later. Somehow he still finished in the same group as Nairo Quintana – which arguably says more about the form of the Colombian than it does about Martin.
The stage result
Six riders arrived at the finish in the front group: five of the favourites plus Warren Barguil, the last man standing from the break. The sprint was somehow won by Rigoberto Uran, who’d been stuck in a monster gear for the last 15km – collateral damage from the Porte crash – and had at times looked in danger of coming to a grinding halt.
The three beyond categorisation climbs did some rather more prosaic damage too, with some contenders shedding serious time even while remaining upright. Quintana, Martin and Simon Yates finished 1m15s back. Alberto Contador lost 4m19s and has probably had it in this race and perhaps even in a wider sense.
Fabio Aru’s dick move
Aru attacked at an entirely random point in the final climb that just so happened to coincide with the moment when Chris Froome’s bike had bust. The Italian said he was entirely unaware of the yellow jersey’s predicament.
I guess he couldn’t see Froome’s raised hand from his vantage point directly beneath it. The YouTube screengrab above is from just after he’d ridden past.
I’ve openly wondered why I didn’t like Fabio Aru before now with no real evidence why I would have taken against him. Maybe I’m some kind of seer.
Froome is not a man to mess with though. After the other major contenders had given Aru a bollocking and hauled him up so that Froome could rejoin them, the yellow jersey slightly lost control of his new bike on a corner and nudged the Italian into the crowd for a moment.
Current overall standings
So that’s what’s happened and here’s how things stand.
You’ll notice that Contador isn’t even in the top ten. Hats of to Rigoberto though, one of only three men within a minute of Froome despite being denied the luxury of gears. Hope he gets onto the podium on that basis alone.
By the way…
I know most of you follow this site via the email and it’d be great if you could forward today’s Rest Day Wrap to someone who might be half-interested in following the rest of the race. You could maybe also suggest that they sign up for future updates via the form at the bottom of the homepage. No pressure, but, you know, I’d really appreciate it. Cheers.
Nice and dull.
The two obvious stages to watch out for this week are Stage 12 on Thursday, which is a summit finish, and Stage 13. The latter’s on Bastille Day and is ultra-short but with plenty of climbing. It should be a really ferocious outing.
There are a few unpredictable mid-mountain stages too, which could go either way.