When it is Alpe d’Huez, you don’t have to wish too hard for something special. Two massive out of category climbs leading up to the most iconic climb in the sport. That is what they served up today, and the riders delivered. A long escapade for Steven Kruijswijk, swept up in the dying hairpins, leading to a second stage win in-a-row for Geraint Thomas, this time in yellow. It also marked the first time a British rider, or indeed the yellow jersey, has won on this famous col.
Greg Van Avermaet has defended yellow with honour. Yesterday, the classics style rider, went on a mountain attack to try and keep it for another twenty-four hours. He was well aware that today, his effort would catch up on him. It did, and with half the short but heavy mountain stage remaining, the question was who would inherit the jersey?
I have not wrote a lot about cycling lately. There hasn’t been much I’ve wanted to say. At least not on the professional road front. It is early season, but the blanket coverage of the Chris Froome misdemeanor, that now borders on an obsessed desire for his take down, has taken over everything and left a sour taste in my mouth to the point in which I have little interest opening a cycling website to wade through all that speculation and innuendo, to find out what else is going on.
2017 was the year of Trump as President, Division, North Korean tensions, sexual harassment, Vegas shooting, Hurricanes, a Solar Eclipse and Canada 150. It was also the year that Philippe Gilbert dominated the Tour of Flanders, Chris Froome won the Tour-Vuelta double, and Peter Sagan done the three-Pete at the World Championships.
It was one of the best time-trials we’ve ever seen, yet also won with ease. That is a testament to the course as well as the competitors at these World Championships in Bergen, Norway. But in the end, Tom Dumoulin was heads and shoulders ahead of the rest. He romped the flat section and flew up the final climb, avoiding the bike change that many had opted for. He is World Champion now, for the first time, and I would suggest, not the last time.
Before this past weekend only two men had ever won the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España in the same year. And nobody had ever done it with the Vuelta coming after the Tour in the current calendar.
For Chris Froome held off the opposition to secure a historic double. Since the start of the Tour and the end of the Vuelta, 72 days had past. In that time Froome raced in Grand Tours for 42 days. And of those, he has spent 32 days in the leaders jersey. It was a remarkable level of consistency of both physical endurance and mental fortitude. It was a fine achievement.
When I last wrote about this Vuelta, almost a week ago, everything was looking good for Chris Froome. He had crashed twice in as many corners that day but his lead stood at 59 seconds to Vincenzo Nibali and nobody had put him in trouble. Indeed, everyone else was starting to fall out of touch. Fast forward six days and you could say that everything still looks good for Froome. But it hasn’t all been easy in the days between.