You won’t see a better bicycle race than yesterday’s final slugfest in the Pyrenees. The riders, in the front and at the very back with Peter Sagan, gave their absolute all. It’s rare to see that kind of finale in the Tour, perhaps the flat day that broke up the sequence of mountain stages had something to do with it, or maybe that’s just who the riders are – chock full of character, will, and burning desire to perform.
I can’t even imagine what went through the collective heads and bodies of Team Sky when the LottoNL-Jumbo suddenly came to life and grabbed ahold of the race the way they did. Robert Gesink’s insane tempo on the Tourmalet that in effect shut down the breakaway, Kruijswijk’s big gear attack that put Sky on red alert that was followed up by Primož Roglič and his, “I’m going to win today and there is nothing you can do about it” attitude – follow through – the Dutch group embodied attacking team racing at its very best.
Landa’s attack, Dan Martin fighting, then fighting some more, Bardet on the limit, then over the limit but hanging on through sheer will…Froome cracking, or what passes for cracking with him…Quintana collapsing, Thomas winning the poker game with Dumoulin forcing him to the front…it just kept coming. One was able to really see the riders up close, at their absolute limits, each one a dramatic story of their own. Completely entertaining, incredible television.
Today’s time trial is a most difficult one, full of climbs and turns and although final TT’s rarely determine the final Yellow Jersey, more often affecting podium and lower placings, Geraint Thomas it not yet home free. Roglič is an excellent time trial rider, second in last year’s World Championships where he lost a little under :02 per kilometer to Dumoulin. However, the 2018 Roglič is a much stronger man that the one from a year ago, and importantly, his form is in ascendance. What’s more, his team truly believes that he can win and that kind of morale, on top of the performance and stage win that we saw yesterday, combined with this punchy racecourse which must suit him to perfection, makes me think that it’s at least within the realm of possibility that he can pull off the upset of the century. The riders are all completely cooked and the time trial, again, especially this one, requires a most violent effort and it remains to be seen, since he’s never been in this situation in his life before, if Thomas can summon up the reserves of energy for a final world class performance that will seal his, most deserved, victory in the Tour de France.
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.