It’s fair to say that Team Sky have been totally dominant in this year’s Tour de France as far as the general classification is concerned. Chris Froome, in pursuit of a third yellow jersey, has shown that there is pretty much no doubt that he’s the strongest bike rider in the world right now.
Sure, the race has been made easier for Sky by the lack of a coherent strategy by Movistar, BMC and their other rivals – meaning Froome has not really been stretched too much. And one does wonder what the race may have looked like had Alberto Contador not retired through injury. But what you can’t take away from Sky is that they have been consistently excellent, keeping their main man out of danger in the flatter days and giving him an armchair ride through most of the mountain stages too. The Kenyan-born rider took the lead early in the race on stage 8, creating just enough distance between him and his rivals at the top of theCol de Peyresourde, then plummeting down the other side faster than anyone else in the race. It was a high risk move, that drew attention because of its general ‘un-Sky- ness’, as much as it did for his unconventional descending style. Since then it has been a case of defend, defend, defend for the men in black.
Of course, the race has not been without incident for Froome. The sight of him running, on his actual legs, up Mont Ventoux, is one that will likely never be seen again in the sport. After overcrowding on the Ventoux led to a bottleneck of race motorbikes, Richie Porte had no choice but to ride straight into the back of a static moto. Froome, closely on the Australian’s wheel, was also taken out and had his bike destroyed by another motorbike behind.
And so he ran up the hill, to try to protect his lead, and await assistance (and a new bike). Some say it was a moment of panic, others claim it was simply evidence of his unwavering will to win. It was the closest he has come to losing his yellow jersey since the end of the first week.
After a typically dominant performance in yesterday’s mountain TT, Froome has just two more days of mountains to complete, and then it’s the processional ride into France and the Champs Elysees. The Team Sky mantra of marginal gains has been common knowledge for some time, with most of the teams in the peloton adopting the same approach to try and replicate the British team’s success. One key ‘gain’ (marginal or otherwise) in their success has to be the Pinarello Dogma bikes that carried first, Sir Bradley Wiggins, and then Chris Froome to victory in three of the last four Tours. You have to wonder why more teams aren’t clamouring to get their riders on the Italian-made frames. While Richie Porte (who left
Team Sky this season to join BMC) may be wishing he could swap his current machine for one of the Dogmas he used to ride, there are no team obligations stopping you grabbing your own Pinarello. And, with the reductions currently in our store, you can own one for less!