I didn’t get seeing much of the stage but when I did turn on I thought for a moment I had traveled back to somewhere around 2009. For there was Alberto Contador, dancing on the pedals and putting everyone into trouble.
They say a solar eclipse can do funny things to animals. Which might explain the reports today of a shark attack in the mountains of Andorra. Over 100km away from the nearest body of salt water as the moon crossed the sun.
The sharks name was Vincenzo Niabli, and it was a predatory attack of stealth precision.. I am speaking of his victory on today’s stage at the Vuelta, of course. Dropped on the final climb he used the descent to make the catch. And once among them he didn’t hesitate. He chewed them up and spat them out, crossing the line with a visible gap; his had mimicking a sharks fin.
Cross winds created a layer of stress today that the contenders could have done without. In the end it didn’t create any major drama though a frantic run in left time gaps measured in the handful of seconds.
The third Grand Tour of the season, The Vuelta a España, got underway today. And if it seems like no time since the Tour ended, that is because it isn't. A quick vacation for myself, a week or so to get back to normal and bang, another big race.
So the Tour is over. Won and done. One for the history books. All that is left now, before turning the page on it, is to take a quick look back. A few thoughts on the winners, a review of my predictions and some awards before saying goodbye. Then I’m off on my holidays for a while. I won’t be bringing my bike and I won’t be thinking about professional cycling either. I’ll return, I hope, in time for the Vuelta.
As Chris Froome delivered his speech in Paris on Sunday, American golfer, Jordan Spieth was doing the same 646km away at Royal Birkdale Golf Club. He had won his first Open Championship at the same moment Froome had secured his fourth Tour de France. The pair are alike in many ways. Both winners, both focused and both committed. But all too rare in athletes in this century, both are also graceful and carry themselves with class.
And yet back in the US, Spieth can look forward to high praise and a warm reception in the media. In the UK, Froome is still striving for the same. It could be a cultural thing, but it could also be a cycling thing. On the day of his victory in Paris, several articles in the British press took a more negative slant on his win. It ought to have been a moment to savour and celebrate.
It all went to script today. You know the drill if you've seen this before. The champagne pictures on the roll in to Paris for Team Sky. The yellow, green, polka-dot and white jersey wearers photographed together. A pretend attack by Mikel Landa on Romain Bardet, but never any intention of anything real. And then a criterium around the streets of Paris to decide the unofficial sprinters world championship.
And it was Dylan Groenewegen who won it. Close on several sprint stages already, he got the biggest sprint win of all today. Second was Andre Greipel. His long streak of winning a stage at every Grand Tour he had entered, dating back to the 2007 Vuelta, was over. A disappointing Tour for the big German who came fast in the sprint but left it a little too late.