From the sprinting duel between Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan, to the emotional victory for John Degenkolb on the Roubaix cobblestones, this has been a Tour de France to remember, so far. If the first week of the race is anything to go by, we’re in for two more of thrilling action, shocking drama and even more shots of utterly drop-dead gorgeous bikes.
Straight out the blocks
Billed as the week for the sprinters, the first block of this Tour de France certainly didn’t disappoint in terms of fast-paced, thrilling sprint action. Dominating the bunch sprints over the first few stages were Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan, each aboard the new, super-aero Specialized S-Works Venge.
Taking the yellow jersey on stage one, Gaviria showed us this ‘new shape of speed’ that the Venge is boasting, and boy is it fast. It didn’t take long for Sagan to open his account too, the world champion firing on the next stage, taking the win and the yellow jersey with it.
The pair then went on to take another win apiece, creating a real close fight for the green jersey. However, crashes for Gaviria and top placings for Sagan in the hillier, classic-like stages soon created a predictably large gap in the points classification, with the Slovak set to take his sixth, record-equalling title as long as he stays on his bike and inside the time cut until we hit the streets of Paris.
As the race enters its second and third weeks, we can expect Sagan to start targeting the breakaways as the world champion is a strong climber if given the opportunity on the escape. For those lumpier days in the saddle, he’ll ride his new, custom S-Works Tarmac Disc – a versatile machine that can destroy all manner of terrains.
One team that have really shone over the first week of racing, despite their less than star-studded line-up, have been the Trek-Segafredo team. Toms Skuijns, their enigmatic Latvian rider who loves a day in the breakaway, opened the account early by snatching the King of the Mountain polka dots from the hands of Frenchmen, Sylvain Chavavel and Lilian Calmejane.
He held it with pride right up until stage 10 – the first real mountain stage of this year’s Tour de France. The polka dots may have left the team, but there is still a stunning, spotted Trek Madone out there somewhere – keep a look out for it.
The team have also been busy chasing stage wins with their classics men, John Degenkolb and Jasper Stuyven, especially the cobble-covered stage nine. The pair did not disappoint, both of them animating the final few kilometres of the race. A one-two attack from the pair managed to place Degenkolb right in the winning move alongside Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) and the yellow jersey, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).
One lung-busting sprint later and it was John Degenkolb aboard his monument crushing Trek Domane who took the stunning victory – an emotional moment for the man who almost saw his racing career ended in a training crash early in 2016.
As the race heads to the high mountains, Trek will re-gather, re-group and begin to protect their GC leader, Bauke Mollema, the Dutchman a strong rider on the highest peaks. With the super-lightweight Trek Emondas in tow, this is one team that we hope to see at the pointy end in the Alps and Pyrenees.
After this week’s Alpine stages, it’s then off to the Massif Central and Pyrenees. Look out for the likes of Trek-Segafredo, Bora-Hansgrohe and Quick-Step Floors as we head into even tougher mountain ranges.