5. #voecklersexface watch
I hope everyone enjoyed the sight of Thomas Voeckler’s sex face gurning away in the day’s break? Some solid TV time for the Europcar publicity man, even if the cameras seemed to spend more time on Giant-Alpecin’s Warren Barguil, visibly suffering to hang with the leaders after crashing yesterday.
Barguil did at least manage to avoid hitting a cow while descending the Col d’Aspin.
Not a lot of joy for French fans the last couple of days. Pre-race favourites Pinot, Bardet, Peraud are all way off the pace, the latter two finished with the sprinters today.
4. What is happening with Vincenzo Nibali?
Yesterday I said The Shark had been turned into fish and chips. That hasn’t changed: the defending champion looks an ashen shadow of himself.
Is he sick, or just failed to peak in time? Has he run out of fucks to give?
Today he was with the GC group until the final kilometre of the final climb, but was easily dropped as soon as Bauke Mollema’s attack lifted the pace. This is not the Shark we know and love.
3. Classic Porte
It’s a cliché that on his day, Richie Porte is one of the best and most destructive climbers in the world, but the day after…
Porte spent a lot of time and energy on the front working today. He was outstanding in a team role. Loyal to the last.
He’s here as a domestique for Froomey and he’s not playing for GC, but is it a problem for his personal ambitions to be so selfless, if it costs him time and reinforces certain perceptions? Could he be more like Valverde, who is clearly riding in support of Nairo Quintana but is still making sure he finishes in the lead group?
If you want to be a GC leader, a reputation for being up and down like Ron Jeremy’s trousers is not all that helpful.
Presumably he’s confident that his new team bosses will understand.
2. Dan Martin’s attack on the maillot demoiselle d’honneur intensifies
Dan Martin is an excellent racer. He’s highly versatile. He can surge up punchy climbs or grind up long ones, far better than most. His long-range solo chase of Rafal Majka today would have been epic, if he’d caught the Pole and won.
He didn’t, and he scored his second second place of the Tour.
By my reckoning that places Martin just behind Peter Sagan in the bridesmaid’s jersey competition, ahead of Greg van Avermaet.
1. Rafal Majka still a great plan B
Tinkoff-Saxo’s Polish climber was one of the saviours (along with Mick Rogers) of the team in 2014, winning two stages after Alberto Contador crashed out.
This year, Contador is still in the race but Majka has already been sent up the road to win a stage.
Does it signal that Contador, who looked about a decade older than usual in pre-stage interviews, no longer believes he can win the Tour?
It was a quality ride from Majka, attacking from a break (with some very good riders in it) on the Col du Tourmalet and riding solo to the finish. He’s still young and I reckon he’ll be a Grand Tour winner some day.