But there’s everything to play for in this year’s race

After the euphoria of the Grand Départ, this year’s Tour de France has a lot to live up to. The Yorkshire and London stages were beyond compare, so the French had their work cut out to match our exuberance.

The weather was certainly against them; it had rained every day since the race left Sheffield as we closed for press. Crowds may have been down, but the drama was off the scale. Crashes were plentiful, particularly for Chris Froome, who managed to wreck both arms in a series of crashes over two days. With Cav’s dramatic departure a few days before, it was a double blow for British fans. Alberto Contador has now gone, too.

Sky’s hopes were kept alive by Richie Porte and it was heartening to witness Geraint Thomas blasting across the cobbles on stage five with the Australian glued to his wheel.

It was gutsy riding but I couldn’t help wondering what Thomas would have managed in the company of Bradley Wiggins after their two top 10 placings in this year’s Paris-Roubaix.

It seems as though Wiggins wasn’t Sky’s only oversight for Tour selection after Peter Kennaugh’s impressive victory in the Tour of Austria.

The Manxman is now showing even better form than last year when he was the climbing powerhouse of Sky’s Tour squad. Another curious decision by Dave Brailsford.

Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly