The cyclists in the 2017 Tour De France have an off day today, the last day of rest before they resume the final six stages to determine the 2017 champion. It is truly five stages at this point, however, as the final stage is traditionally a ceremonial parade through the streets of Paris.
This year’s race has been one of the most compelling in recent memory and one of the most intriguing aspects has been leader Chris Froome’s brushes with disaster.
Froome and Team Sky had the yellow jersey stripped from them when Froome cracked at the end of one of the brutal climbing stages in the Pyrenees. They had no sooner reclaimed the maillot jaune when Froome broke a wheel in stage 15, just as close rival Romain Bardet and his AG2R team launched an attack in the final 8 kilometres of the grueling climb of the Col de Peyra Taillade.
Froome stopped and took the back wheel of his teammate Michal Kwiatkowski, but that exchange gave Bardet and his group a minute to put distance on Froome. During early stages of the Tour, riders will often stop for such incidents involving the race leader, but that consideration goes out the window when it gets down to the nub.
Froome used help from other teammates, first Mikel Nieve, and then Mikel Landa. Goes to show that you can never have too many Mikels or Michals on your team, but we do wish more cyclists would adopt the surname Smith-much easier to type.
Froome is fortunate to have the strongest team in the race this year, but some of that team might be empty after the expenditure of energy required to chase down Bardet.
Reeling Bardet in, as he did, meant that the two riders finished with the same time. Froome has a scant 18-second edge over Fabio Aru and 23 seconds over Bardet.