This Tour de France, no Sky director sportif was shouting in Chris Froome’s earpiece for him to slow down.
Froome didn’t slow and proceeded to not only take a solo win atop Ax 3 Domaines but destroyed his rivals physically and mentally. He put almost two minutes in top rival Alberto Contador who suffered through a bad day.
While it as a thrilling day for Sky, the result sent shock waves of depression though the media and probably through the majority of the team directors. Was the Tour over already, on July 6th, stage eight? Done and dusted and number two for Sky?
Hard not to jump to dire conclusions, such was the dominance of Sky. It was the Tour version of Deja Vu all over again. Wiggins out, Froome in, and even faster up the mountain.
Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde might be happy about his third place on the stage but he’s already 51 seconds down. In the Spaniard’s case, it’s like saying yes, the hair regrowth product kind of works but I’m still losing follicles fast.
Pint-sized climber Joaquin Rodriguez of Katusha, who’s built his entire season around the Tour de France, is 2:31 back and there’s nothing the Russian Global Cycling Project can do about fixing that.
BMC essentially died on the route to Ax 3 Domaines. There’s no longer any guess work or hand-wringing about who to support in the Tour — Cadel or Tejay. The former white jersey winner died in the heat, losing 12 minutes. Meanwhile 36 year old Evans fell back four minutes and is already looking Giro-exhausted and Tour demoralized.
Yesterday Garmin finally lost Christian Vande Velde to a smorgasbord of crash injuries and today Ryder Hesjedal’s broken rib ended his Tour hopes. No Giro defense, no Tour revenge. On the flip side, Andrew Talansky and Dan Martin rode strongly but they’re 12th and 13th on GC and far from scaring Froome.
Froome left them all down the mountain and rapidly out of contention. The best climbers are often called Angels of the Mountain but Sweaty Angel fits Froome with greater accuracy.
We’ve never seen a rider pouring sweat like that — each body rock move back and forth in his climbing rhythm sent off another cascade of sweat drops. His entire body was hemorrhaging liquid but it had no effect on the speed of ascent.
Only Richie Porte came close to matching the devastating power generated by his teammate Froome. The contrast in styles was striking — Froome, grim and determined, his body rocking and sweat pouring off him; Porte much more contained with almost a smile on his face.
We hate to say Tour over — nobody wants to hear those words, accept that statement, give in to that conclusion. However, Froome and his team were so superior that it’s hard to imagine a weakness.
We pray for Alberto Contador to put his jour sans behind him. Otherwise, it’s a long, dull, repetitive road to Paris.