The NRL top eight is locked in, the coaching merry-go-round is slowing to a halt and I hope the journos from Nine and News Corp are done crying about who’s being meaner to whom for the time being. So let’s leave the footy aside for a week.
After the rest day, there’s plenty to talk about. Stage 17 of le Tour de France happened last night, and the biggest shock was…
5. Tejay van Goner-en
Poor Tejay. It’s not every day someone sitting 3rd on GC abandons. Tejay was shelled early, and got in the car. It was later revealed he’s been suffering with a heavy cold and chills for a few days, and when he got back on the bike for Stage 17 he realised it was game over.
The other big name to abandon was Michal Kwiatkowski, “the man in the white World Champion’s jersey” (#sherliggettisms #drink) after announcing he’s leaving Etixx-Quickstep. Not that the two are related.
4. Pinot and Talansky foiled again
Pinot and Talansky came into this Tour with big expectations and it was no surprise to see them attacking on the Col d’Allos.
Perhaps the surprise was that both were so far down in GC they were allowed to be in a break 11 minutes in front of the yellow jersey.
Sadly, this year seems to have cast Pinot in a comedy role, and his old descending yips returned – after surging up the Col d’Allos in pursuit of Simon Geschke, Poor Old Pinot lost time on the descent, then crashed (locked up his rear wheel) and completely lost his nerve. A handful of riders passed him going downhill and he was left with too much to do on the Pra Loup ascent.
Talansky fared better, but his attempt to catch Geschke simply came too late. Still, second on the stage is better than the ‘Pitbull’ has been travelling.
3. The Porte Parachute
It was almost perfect: Richie Porte got in the break, and started to deliberately drift backwards in time to meet Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas on the way up. Porte parachuted in just as Nibali and Quintana were putting Froome under pressure on the Col d’Allos, and took control.
Unfortunately he was caught behind when Contador crashed, and was no further help to Froome (although it appears he helped drag Super G to the finish, so not all bad).
Of course, Movistar used the same tactic but had TWO riders in the break, giving Quintana and Valverde a brief but huge advantage over the lonesome Froome. Didn’t help much, though.
2. Geschke’s beard
It’s always (well, a couple of years) been a genuine contest between Simon Geschke and Luca Paolini for best beard in the pro peloton, but with Paolini serving time in Ibiza it’s pretty clear who’s taking home the maillot barbe.
It was a big ride today from Giant-Alpecin’s hirsute domestique, and the biggest win of his career. Not without some serious panache, too – a long solo attack, a breathless technical descent, and then a tough grind to the line to hold off the chasers.
1. GC shake
With Tejay van out, and Alberto Contador crashing and losing time, there was space created near the top of the big list, but not even a tiny crack at the top.
Valverde is up to 3rd. Contador now looks cooked as far as podiums go, but he might be able to sting Super G for 4th. Nibali might get past Gesink but that’s about all. Quintana has thrown everything at Froome and still hasn’t cracked him.
Still, plenty of Alps to come.
This post was originally published here.