Team Sky plants Stage 7 bomb, peloton explodes
Well the Tour has truly awoken and the General Classification has taken on a form which may resemble in some manner the makeup of the podium in Paris.
Team Sky’s cards have been shown. It was a formidable train from them over the final 6km climb which destroyed the peloton, and it appears they will be the primary catalyst in the hunt for the Maillot-Jaune.
But despite Team Sky’s strong display in Stage 7, we shouldn’t get too carried away with this outcome and what it could mean for the remainder of the race.
In the overall context of the race, this stage was only a smallish mountain stage, and once the Alps/Pyrenees are reached, there are no guarantees that Team Sky will be able to repeat today’s efforts, particularly as the climbs to come are typically much longer.
What’s surprising is the way in which the entire peloton disintegrated over the course of the 6km climb. Was this due to the strength of Team Sky or perhaps is this evidence of a slight reduction in overall strength and quality of the rest of the field this year?
Chris Froome no doubt put in the ride of the day, pulling out of his suitcase of courage, enough to match Evans’ attack at the final bend and keep going past to pull away for a brilliant victory on the stage. I really don’t know how he did that.
Froome’s showing has potentially created a new dynamic within Team Sky. Has enough been shown here to cast an iota of doubt in the minds of Team Sky’s bosses, and perhaps Wiggins himself as to who the real leader of the team is to be?
I’d go as far as to say this could re-plant the Team Sky conundrum that was apparent at last year’s Tour of Spain, with Froome coming second in the race overall. Many thoughts at the time were of the nature that, had Wiggins ridden for Froome in that race, Froome may have taken out the overall victory.
One thing is fairly certain though. As opposed to most recent editions of Le Tour, the race is now “on” from a very early stage, and this increases the anticipation significantly of each of the upcoming stages. It’s great for us fans. It will be interesting to see if Team Sky can carry out similar power lead-outs into the larger climbs over the next few days.
Winners of the day – Chris Froome and Team Sky for putting the team in a strong position on the stage and for the GC, and executing.
Losers of the day – Frank Schleck. For some reason he was trying to get assistance from some of his teammates who had already blown their head gaskets. But poor Spartacus, let’s look forward to seeing him put in another strong performance in the Time Trial in a few days.
Satisfied on the day – Cadel Evans has to be content with the day’s proceedings. He hasn’t shown any weakness yet, and had Froome not pulled out a ridiculous kick, Evans would have added another stage victory to his palmeres. Peter Sagan has also consolidated his Green Jersey lead over his nearest rivals.
Something strange – BMC’s support crew for Evans showed a surprising lack of grunt on the final climb. Hopefully it’s an anomaly for Cadel’s sake. Cyril Gaultier, who spent 180-odd km in the break on the day, had succumbed to the fatigue in the final 10km once the pressure was applied, and watching his riding style (affected by fatigue) was enough to induce symptoms of sea-sickness.