Who needs team-mates?
Every pro cyclist actually. But at the same time, there’s little meaning in being team leader if you only ever finish right alongside your garishly-attired brethren. On stage three of the Tour of Romandy, Chris Froome made light of Team Sky’s relative weakness of late and did his thing alone.
Vincenzo Nibali attacked on the final climb, Froome smoothly caught up to him and then instantly attacked himself. Nibali followed for a little while, then cracked. For a while, Froome looked to be on a long solo journey, but Simon Spilak managed to join him. The pair reached the summit well ahead of everyone and then stayed together down the other side until the finish, at which point the Slovenian made surprisingly heavy weather of beating the world’s worst sprinter.
Nibali had distanced the entire peloton on the final descent of stage one before being caught on the flat afterwards. However, the end of stage three wasn’t really twisty-turny enough to show off his skills, which meant he and others lost a minute to Froome.
The Tour of Romandy’s only five stages and while something could happen to the general classification on stage four, the final time trial is probably the next major appointment for the overall contenders. If anything, you’d expect Froome to increase his lead – only he’s not actually in the lead. He trails Spilak by a second thanks to time bonuses on the line.
You might not know Spilak. He’s odd in that he’s a stage racer without being a Grand Tour contender – he hasn’t even ridden one since the 2011 Giro. More specifically, his palmares is dominated by the Tour of Romandy. He was awarded the win in 2010 after Alejandro Valverde was banned, finished eighth in 2012 and was runner-up to Froome last year.
As for this year, he’s not a noted time trialist, so that one second lead probably won’t be enough.
British rider, Adam Yates, won a stage of the Tour of Turkey taking the race lead in the process. You may remember his twin brother, Simon, winning a stage of the Tour of Britain last year. Everyone expected the Yates boys to sign with Team Sky like nice, obedient, mindless British cyclists are supposed to, but they opted for Aussie team, Orica GreenEDGE instead.
Why did they do this? Well, just maybe they didn’t fancy being the solution to Sky’s current domestique crisis. Maybe they wanted to ride for wins instead. The Tour of Turkey is the kind of stage race which doesn’t feature too many stage racers, but it’s still a notable win for someone in their first season as a pro.