What a difference a day can make for Team Sky. Saturday afternoon they stand accused of suffocating the Tour de France with their US Postal-style dominance of the first mountain stage of this year’s race.
Cynics moan that the race is all over. Less than 24 hours later the men-in-black collapse in equally spectacular fashion, leaving the yellow jersey isolated at the front of the race for some 125 kilometres, losing Richie Porte’s second place overall and having Vasil Kiryienka eliminated for finishing last of the stage and outside the time limit.
The cynicism lifts, the race is wide open once again, or is it?
Certainly last Sunday is a day that Team Sky will want to forget. And yes, you have to admire the audacity of Froome’s rivals, particularly Movistar. They attacked hard and fast, right from the start. Sky, still tired from the day before were caught off guard and nobody, except Froome could follow.
Phase one was complete, now to put the yellow jersey under pressure.
Only they couldn’t, he held them at bay over three successive first category climbs. Four times in two kilometres on the final ascent of La Hourquette d’Ancian Nairo Quintana attacked. Movistar’s Columbian climbing sensation is reckoned to the best in this year’s race. Only he isn’t, Froome easily matched every effort, not even having to get out of the saddle when he responded.
Froome admitted it was one of the toughest days he had ever had a bike. You wouldn’t have known it, I reckon he made it look pretty easy.
This article was first published in the June 20 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!