Thomas surges, Froome falters
TOUR ANALYSIS - JV Araneta (The Freeman) - July 27, 2018 - 12:00am

Finally, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) showed his stuff to take the gimmicky stage 17 of the Tour de France. The stage was short, just 65km total, and fireworks were expected but it was far from that and it was because of the strength of Team SKY.


Nairo’s win was actually a “gift”. If he was considered a contender, he would not have been let go by SKY. Movistar may have salvaged their Tour a little bit but it doesn’t camouflage the fact that this is a debacle for the Spanish squad.

Geraint Thomas (SKY), finally showed that he’s the boss, dropping all the contenders in the final kilometer of the stage, including teammate and defending champion Chris Froome, who lost 50sec to Thomas. Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), who was third going into  the stage, made a strong move and jumped over Froome to second place. Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), who was part of the group that contained the contenders, inched closer and is threatening Froome’s 3rd place.

There is still one more mountain stage and a time-trial to go before the peloton heads to Paris and it would be interesting how the top 4 will look like after the TT. Thomas is a decent against the clock and I think that he can hold on to the lead against Dumoulin, who is a better time-triallist of the four. I am not mentioning Quintana, who sits at 5th, since he can’t TT and I don’t think the other four will allow him a longer leash on the final mountain stage. Froome is a better than average time-triallist and if his form is okay, he can probably unseat Dumoulin’s 2nd place since the TT route is hilly and he is a better climber than the Dutchman. But I don’t think so. In fact, his third place is in a precarious spot since Roglic is no slouch when it comes to racing against the clock. Although it is far-fetched, it should be worth pondering about.

There is no doubt now that SKY’s forces should be all for Thomas. I was thinking that maybe Froome (my favorite to win) can do a long distance breakaway like what he did in the Giro but, 1- I don’t think his rivals will allow that, 2- I think he is paying for his exertion in the Giro win and 3- it would be counterproductive to team ambitions.

Johan Bruyneel, who directed Lance Armstrong’s 7 Tour wins said that Froome should now be at the service of Froome just to be sure that the team will win. What if Froome falters from his attack and Thomas needs his help?

Finally, I would like to praise the work of Egan Bernal, the 21 years old Colombian who’s in his first Tour and is working for the leaders of SKY. It’s unlikely to see a neophyte 21yo leading setting a very strong tempo for Thomas on the final mountain and still herded Froome when he faltered. I have a feeling that Bernal will be SKY’s leader in 2 years time and be the fist Colombian to win the Tour.

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