Here's what we were talking about on stage 17 of the Tour de France
Tejay dropping out
On the second rest day of the Tour de France there was the real prospect that Tejay van Garderen would finish on the podium in Paris if he could get through the Alps unscathed.
Those prospects were dashed almost immediately as the racing got back underway on stage 17 with the American succumbing to what appeared to be an illness.
Within a couple of hours of racing van Garderen was already four minutes off the back of a peloton that was taking it reasonably easy, with the former white jersey winner finally calling it a day with 70km to go.
Earlier in the Tour, BMC had looked like one of the strongest teams – gaining two individual stage wins, winning the team time trial and having van Garderen in third place after 16 stages.
Van Garderen was starting to prove his doubters wrong but with this latest setback he’ll be back to square one next year when he tries to convince us he’s one of the top contenders for the Tour.
Geschke’s tears after the race
“I don’t want to cry on TV, but I can’t help it,” said stage winner Simon Geschke afterwards.
It’s not surprising that the popular German was in tears at the finish line, it was only the third win in his seven seasons as a professional.
Geschke is a one-team man, having spent all seven years at the various iterations of Giant-Alpecin, although he did spend a few months as a stagiaire with Millram in 2008.
These days he’s more known for his thick beard and relentlessly getting in the breakaways. He did it at the Giro d’Italia in May and now he’s been in a number of breaks at the Tour.
This time, though, persistence paid off. His attack halfway up the monstrous Col d’Allos stuck and he negotiated the tricky descent down the other side with enough time to crunch it up to Pra Loup.
In what seems to be a bit of a epidemic at Giant-Alpecin, Geschke was so shocked to win that he forgot to do up his jersey to show off the team sponsor.
Alpecin will be very happy to see one of their men win, but like with John Degenkolb in both Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix their brand wasn’t exposed to the full extent.
At his current pace Geschke will have a couple of years to perfect his winning zip-up and I’m sure the team’s sponsorship department will be keen for him to start work on it soon.
Froome isn’t giving an inch
There’s not much more to say about Chris Froome‘s performances in this year’s Tour de France. Every day we see him hold on to the yellow jersey with minimal fuss, but it helps that none of his rivals are putting in any real attacks and the ones they do try, Froome closes down immediately.
Valverde had a bit of a dig on the descent of the Col d’Allos but even that seemed to be a bluff to help out Nairo Quintana. Had he been given the order to go he could possibly have taken time off Froome on the descent and even forced the Brit into a costly mistake.
As it was, Froome and Quintana had a little battle up to Pra Loup but Froome wouldn’t even give the Colombian a second.
Sagan is a good teammate
As someone who’s been given quite scant support over the course of this Tour, Peter Sagan showed he’s above any pettiness and stopped to help Alberto Contador when the Spaniard had a mechanical on the Allos descent.
Granted, Sagan wasn’t racing for position in this stage but he could easily have just sacked off all effort and joined the gruppetto rather than riding with Contador.
The Slovak tried hard to form a breakaway in the early parts of the stage but the efforts were thwarted each time. Finally, though, the green jersey holder did get away in the large break that formed – his fourth in a row this Tour.
With all the work Sagan has done for Tinkoff-Saxo in the race – with prize money and helping out Contador – it would be great to see the whole team working for him on stage 21 in Paris.
Yet another breakaway win
I can’t work out if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that the breakaway keeps winning. I’m a firm believer that the best stages are the ones that come to the wire with the break either being caught in the dying metres or holding off the chasing bunch by a matter of seconds.
It’s starting to get a bit predictable now, with five of the last seven stages being won by the breakaway. For the GC riders there’s no real incentive to chase the break because no-one dangerous is ever allowed to get into it.
So the peloton allows them to gain an unassailable lead and then battles amongst itself for the minor places and small time gaps – not that there have been many of note in the last few stages, leading to a whole load of false drama.
Thursday’s stage to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne is prime territory for another breakaway win thanks to its downhill finish, so unless one of Froome’s rivals finally puts in a shift it’ll be business as usual for the escapers once more.