What a heartbreak yesterday for the brave Pole Maciej Bodnar swept up by the raging sprint just meters before the finish. While most of the flatland breaks like yesterdays are controlled to perfection by the combination of race radios, live TV feeds in the team cars and the current team structures that resemble NFL squads in their precise divisions of labor, Bodnar’s powerful solo attack blew the peloton’s calculations apart and put the sprint teams into crisis. It was a real treat to see the Quickstep boys in full throttle, Bauer, Gilbert with particularly Stybar’s efforts well captured on camera – the Czech was flying.
Bodnar will come out of this Tour with a great win just the same: that effort made him a hero in his home county, and the great strength and courage he exhibited will do him well in any future contract negotiations. Imagine how Quickstep is looking at him now: Bodnar and Vermote as your tempo men? That’s a director’s dream.
On the menu are two delicious days of high mountains. The Pyrenees always throw up some sort of nasty surprise and today’s rain will complicate things on this marathon stage that rises in crescendo to a mountaintop finish. The peloton will look to exhaust Sky, there’ll be no help from anyone, in fact, look for alliances against them. We’ll have a much clearer view of the race after today and know whether Froome is once again as unassailable in the GC as Kittel is in the sprints, or if in fact we have a real dog fight on our hands.
Tomorrow is the one everyone is really scared of – the short mountain stages are always the most dangerous because the time limits are small and for the heavy riders, simply making that time limit can be as hard as trying to win a stage.
John Eustice, is the organizer of the Thompson Bucks County Classic in Doylestown, Pennsylvania and a long-time cycling analyst who has contributed to ESPN, ABC Sports, Time Magazine, and CNN among others. The Bucks County native resides in New York City. He was a pioneer on the European racing circuit and is a two-time United States Professional Champion.