Stage 12: Everyone beats Chris Froome
His team were strong. Very strong. Unrivalled budget strong. But then it all rather dribbled away in the near-vertical final 200m.
Mikel Landa led his team leader to the foot of that final slope, pulled aside to let him through and… finished ahead of him.
That isn’t the way it’s supposed to work.
It could have been the gradient favouring lighter riders, but I think it was more just that Froome didn’t have anything left. He had the air of a man battling more than just gravity.
Romain Bardet won, allowing ITV4 to play out with On A Ragga Tip again; Rigoberto Uran was two seconds slower; and Fabio Aru was third on the same time and so snaffled the yellow jersey.
Landa, Louis Meintjes and Dan Martin came in after that and only then Froome, who managed to lose 22 seconds in little more than a minute of racing.
He then rounded off his day by doing the post-race interview with a stupid thing in his nose.
Come on, Chris. We know things didn’t go well, but have some self respect.
After all, some had even worse days. Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana are now both utterly out of contention, while Jakob Fuglsang is labouring with broken bones and will surely abandon if he knows what’s good for him.
There was some bad news for Uran after the stage too, as he was given a 20 second penalty for taking a bottle in the final kilometres in much the same way that Bardet wasn’t for doing the exact same thing. It pays to be French in these sorts of situations.
Look at the distance. This is less than half the length of stage 12 but with plenty of climbing crammed in.
They will race this hard and not everyone will have recovered from today. Time gaps could be sizeable.