Froome runs away with Tour de France on Ventoux
The Giant of Provence, one of the Tour de France’s most iconic climbs, a beast and a killer, Mont Ventoux is a brutal challenge on a race bike. It’s even more excruciating and slow to attempt to tackle the HC climb without a bike.
That was the astonishing image of this year’s Tour de France — and perhaps already one of the most famous in Tour history — two time winner Chris Froome trying to win the Tour de France on foot, clacking up the mountain in his hard sole Sidis, as his rivals Richie Porte (BMC) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) raced ahead on actual bikes.
It was crazy, insane, comical, shocking — it was the circus of the Tour amplified by a thousand. Froome, the captain of team Sky, the epitome of advance planning and variable control, reduced to running a 1000 meter race on Ventoux. Holy, freaking, bizarre.
ASO, the organizer of the Tour, and the most powerful entity in the sport, prides itself on doing a better job than the UCI in terms of drug testing and rider safety. Well, yes and no. They took the pre-emptive precaution to cut out the final seven kilometers of Ventoux due to gale force winds.
They shorted the stage for safety and bravo, chapeau, but claimed the winds and shortage of time prevented the placement of barriers in the final two kilometers. Take those thousands and thousands of fans that would have been spread up the mountain and bring them all down those seven K and you have insanity waiting to happen.
With just over one K to go, Richie Porte launches an attack, full gas just as the crowds blocking the rad force the TV moto in front of Porte to come to a sudden stop. Porte slams into the back of the moto, lucky not to smash his face in. Mollema and Froome rear-end Porte with both fortunate — especially the spindly Froome — to survive in one piece.
At that point, Mollema remounts and races off. Porte gathers himself and his bike back together and follows. Froome, his Pinarello destroyed by the police moto that was following them to0 closely, starts running.
The first shot was Froome grabbing something at his chest. At first we assumed it was a holy cross under his jersey and he was sending out as many prayers and beseechments as possible to the higher power. Instead he was attempting to contact Sky command and oder up another bike.
First he made do with a Mavic Neutral Service bike that didn’t fit him or his cleats. Then, at last, his team car arrived and he could stop his desperate sprint up Ventoux. Eventually he lost something like a minute and twenty. Insanity, chaos, bedlam — you know the story and witnessed the madhouse.
Was it the right call to give Froome and Porte the same time as Mollema. Probably. Although critics where quick to point out Froome’s fake nature break to shot down a Movistar attack after three of Froome’s teammates where taken down by Simon Gerran’s crash. Smart thinking on Froome’s part but also a cynical bend of the rules.
Nairo Quintana of Movistar looked overmatched by Froome up Ventoux — on the bike and on foot. The Tour is Froome’s to lose and if he didn’t lose it today on the craziest stage we’ve seen in France in forever it doesn’t seem likely anyone or anything will beat him now.
Based on what we just saw today, Froome is running away with this Tour.