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And Now, On To Paris!

The second rest day arrives just in time for “gorilla” Andre Greipel to recharge following his third win du jour of the Tour in stage 15, while Peter Sagan is forced to rest with that same old number after the historically dangerous descent of the Col de Manse takes him to the line of stage 16 in– you got it– second.  That’s now five #2 finishes for the points-leading “green machine.”

Stage 16 Stage 18

Then come the Alps, along with further losses to the overall field.  As American Tejay Van Garderen had been sitting in third place overall, on stage 17 he meets an illness-induced end before reaching this Tour’s highest elevation point on the Col d’Allos.  Meanwhile, other-American Andrew Talansky (of only three in this Tour) notably finishes the day in second with a GC 12th place.  A French 1-2 closes stage 18 in Saint-Jean-de-Maurine, as Romain Bardet takes his first-ever Tour de France stage win, with Pierre Roland shortly behind.  The GC standings and Froome’s longstanding 3:10 lead still don’t change, that is until the following day.  Defending champ Vincenzo Nibali, nearly written off in the first week, proves he’s back by attacking on the Col de la Croix-de-Fer, winning stage 19, and moving himself up to fourth place overall, while second place Nairo Quintana pulls ahead to narrow the gap on le maillot jaune by 32 seconds.

Stage 19 Stage 20

This feeds into the penultimate finish atop Alpe d’Huez, at the end of a final climb long predicted to shake up the Tour even further.  A great day it proves for the French, as Thibaut Pinot ascends to a remarkable stage 20 victory, holding off the young Colombian in white who crosses the line in second while erasing another big chunk off that GC gap.  As such, to keep it interesting if not exactly shaken up, Chris Froome begins the Tour’s last day with a lead of 1:12, down from 2:38, down from 3:10, certainly a humbled presumed winner.

As always, it all comes down to Paris.  The champagne soon again shall flow!

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2015 in 2015 Tour de France

 

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Stage 18: More Now Than Ever.

The climbing is now over for the 101st Tour de France, but not before the Italian in yellow captured the last summit finish while adding nearly another two minutes to his lead.  Sure, we all know anything can happen yet, though I must say here at the end of stage 18 that overall victory in Paris is looking pretty safely wrapped up.  At least the polka dots are set, while the green jersey has once again this year remained on the same single dominant back- and we know whose that is!

 Nibali passes Chris Horner Nibali's solo climb

Then of course there’s white, for the best young rider, in this case France’s bright rising star. Thibaut Pinot has impressively ascended in all rankings throughout his journey, to now sit in second place behind le maillot jaune. Could France see the GC podium in Paris?  Likely.  Could France see yellow?  Unlikely, as this would require a very unusual and surprising seven minutes.

  Along stage 18... Pinot in action

Now heading into the final three days of Le Tour, more now than ever, Vincenzo Nibali will be the champion of the 2014 Tour de France.  At the same time, more now than ever– especially with an individual time trial still to come– again, anything can happen yet.  Now back to the sprints!

(Photos Courtesy LeTour.fr – ASO)

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2014 in 2014 Tour de France

 

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