Le Tour 2018 – Stages 3 & 4
All change (well, a bit…)
As predicted by your columnist (we don’t need mystic octopuses here!) BMC triumphed in the Team Time Trial on Monday by a sufficient enough margin (an almighty 4 seconds) to put Greg van Avermaet in yellow and catapult Riche Porte up the rankings as well. BMC’s win by 4 seconds also denied Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas the honour of the Maillot Jeune. Still, Team Sky will be pretty pleased by the result. It was ‘oh so smooth’ stuff and allowed Froome to claw back most of the 51 seconds he had lost against many of his main rivals though not all. Courtesy on an excellent TTT from his Team Sunweb colleagues, uber time trialist Tom Dumoulin remains 44 seconds ahead of Froome. Mind you, an even bigger margin than that turned out to be nowhere enough to prevent the rampaging Froome from grabbing victory recently when the Giro hit the mountains so how much that will play on Dumoulin’s mind when this race hits the big hills in week 2, we shall no doubt find out.
Big loser of the day was Nairo Quintana whose Movistar team delivered a pretty tepid performance losing 53 seconds. That left Quintana a massive 1:13 behind Froome after only 3 days. Given Froome’s ability in the mountains (indeed, pretty much everywhere) that’s already looking like too big a gap. And perhaps the biggest surprise was watching Peter Sagan getting dropped off the back of the Bora Hansgrohe train and ending up losing over 3 minutes. “We love you Peter and your lovely yellow jersey, but not if you’re going to slow us down” (one can almost here them not saying).
Stage 4 was another fairly flat affair, indeed we suspect that like us, most folks can’t wait until the race starts hitting the odd Hors Categorie. Let’s face it, that’s why we really watch Grand Tours! Anyway, there’s plenty of that to come so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Stage 4 was another one for the purists and the winner, as on Stage 1, was rising Columbian star Fernando Gaviria. His duel with Peter Sagan is already becoming one of the biggest talk points of the race so far; the impudent young debutant taking on (and so far, beating) the world champion. Just check out the bromance in the lovely image below (from Getty Images Embedding service).
As far as GC is concerned, it’s really ‘as you were’. Froome finished safely in the pack to maintain his position and there was no shuffling around of note. So on to Stage 5, a hilly 204.5km run from Lorient to Quimper. Van Avermaet described it as a mini classic. And we’ve not got anywhere near the cobbles yet!
One final codicil from Stage 1. We hadn’t spotted this incident until we read about it in a report on a well respected website. It relates to when Chris Froome had his near miss with that bollard on the opening stage (an incident that seems to get worse every time we see it). At the finish line in Fontenay, there was apparently some cheering when the big screen relayed the images of the incident. If so, then those who are guilty need to hang their heads in shame. That could have been so much worse and no rider, whatever your opinion of them deserves to be cheered coming so close to a serious injury. Let’s hope for no more of the same.