Freeman Cebu Sports

The King is dead, long live the King!

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente Araneta - The Freeman

 With the results of the final stage unlikely to change the final overall and other classifications, I have to admit that this is the strangest of all Tour de France’s that I have watched.

Never in my wildest thoughts did it occur to me that Vincenzo Nibali would be leading and winning by 7min over the next rider,Jean-Christophe Peraud, and dominating the race like Lance Armstrong did.

How did it happen this way?

First of all, this Tour was designed for the climbers. There are 6 mountain stages and only one time trial, a 54km race against the clock. In 2012, there were “only” 5 mountain stages but three time trial stages, totaling about 100km.

In other words, this Tour was tailored fit for Nibali who is a better climber than a time-triallist while in the 2012 Tour, it was Bradley Wiggins who dominated the race with strong TT’s and hanging on with the climbers in the mountains.

However, it’s not only those factors that favored Nibali. The stars partially aligned when Chris Froome, crashed out on stage 5. The rest of the stars completely aligned when Alberto Contador crashed a few stages later. Remember, Nibali was never considered as Tour winner until Contador crashed.

While some fans may say that Nibali was lucky, he definitely made his luck. He was ahead with the favorites in the cobblestones of stage 5 and he was present when the attacks that mattered happened. And most importantly, he peaked at the right time.He was criticized by his team manager a few weeks before the Tour for doing nothing but he won the Italian national championship’s 6 days before the Tour, a portent of things to come.

As for the French, it was a time to celebrate, getting into the podium after 17 years. JC Peraud and Thibaut Pinot really did surprise a bit considering their performance. But French win after Bernard Hinaults’ in 1985 is still eons away.

American Tejay van Garderen tied his best performance in the Tour at 5th, leapfrogging over RomainBardet by two seconds after Bardet flatted near the finish line and needed 15 seconds for a bike change. However, Tejay needs to go back to the drawing board exciting his results may have been.

I think the most miserable rider is Alejandro Valverde, he lost his 2nd place overall to the French. I don’t think he’ll get better than 4th place in the future. His teammate, Nairo Quintana, last years 2nd place, will surely replace him next year. Maybe he should start think about the Classics.

Leopold Koenig is another rider to watch. Despite having a wildcard team, he managed to finish in 7th place, better than the team Trek Factory Racing HaimarZubeldia(@8th) and duo of Team Belkin riders, Laurens Ten Dam and BaukeMollema(9th& 10th, respectively), two teams with bigger budgets than Koenigs team, Netapp-Endura.

For Vincenzo Nibali, he won the race after stage 10 when Alberto Contador crashed and withdrew. This after Chris Froome also withdrew after stage 5. But nobody can take away what he and the other riders have accomplished even in the absence of Contador and Froome. Critics can say, “if only…” until the cows come home but the standings won’t change.

I can’t wait for next year, though. I wish it could come sooner enough. (FREEMAN)

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