With rain lashing the roads towards Morzine, there was more to lose by attacking than there was to gain on stage 20 of the Tour de France
The Tour de France classification stars seemingly called a truce over the final climb of this year’s race due to the treacherous conditions on the roads to Morzine and the strength of Sky, team of race leader Chris Froome.
Rain fell for much of the second half of the final mountain stage, spoiling any party on the Joux Plane climb and descent.
“Coming off the descents, everyone was frozen solid,” said Richie Porte (BMC). “I think everyone got to the bottom of the Joux Plane absolutely frozen.
“The Joux Plane is not an easy climb and Sky rode a solid pace, it was quite hard to do anything from that. Geraint Thomas had a pace there that was absolutely impossible to attack off.”
On stage 19, many stars from Froome to Porte crashed on the wet and slippery stage to Le Bettex under Mont Blanc. The late crash and chase appeared to cost Porte, and on Saturday, he stayed safe.
“Every descent we did today was just dangerous and slippery, I don’t think anyone wanted to risk it. There was a lot to lose. Sky had it all under control anyhow,” he said.
Tour de France stage 20 highlights
Sky took control over the Joux Plane and Col de la Ramaz with Thomas, Wout Poels, Sergio Henao, Mikel Landa and Mikel Nieve. They left no space for a move like the one on stage 19 from Romain Bardet, who attacked for the stage victory and second place overall.
“On the Col de la Ramaz, we saw that Froome was not [going] very well, but we quickly realised he was okay physically and that it would be difficult to attack,” Bardet’s team-mate Alexis Vuillermoz said. “So we opted for a defensive strategy and decided to secure the second spot.”
“At the end of a long Tour, everyone is tired. No one wanted to take risks.”
“It’s the end of three weeks, everyone’s pretty tired,” said Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange), who holds fourth place. “If you attack, it might not work and you waste everything.”
Sky, who secured its fourth Tour title and third with Froome, was pleased with the situation.
“We expected people to attack today in the final,” Mikel Nieve said. “Nobody did because we [Sky] were much better than we expected today.”
Froome rode safely down to Morzine with a 4-05-minute lead over Bardet, which he should keep when the race finishes in Paris tomorrow.
“It was quite a dangerous descent,” Froome said. “I don’t think anyone wanted to take risks. We saw what happened yesterday, there were crashes everywhere, that was on everyone’s mind.”