After 9 stages of the Tour, some of the leading GC contenders have fared better than others regarding their overall position. As we approach the first big mountaintop finish on the Col de Soudet at Pierre-Saint-Martin in the Pyrenees, the attacks will come thick and fast. The Wattmeister expects Chris Froome to take a leaf out of his own illustrious palmares by stamping his authority on procedings, and who can forget that scintillating acceleration on Barnet Gate Lane back in 2013 which put Iron Mike and Big Mig in such difficulties during the Tour of Trotter’s Bottom?
Anyway, let’s not linger on past glories, the real action takes place this afternoon, and the time is ripe for a bit of pontification regarding the possible outcome of today’s test.
Several riders outside of the Big Four of, Froome, Contador, Nibali and Quintana have managed to negotiate a difficult first week and remain in striking distance of the overall lead. TJ van Gaarderen, Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez are obvious candidates, but let us explore beyond the obvious.
As it is Bastille Day, some highly motivated French grimpeurs will be active, particularly accident-prone Thibaut Pinot who has conceded much ground to the favourites, also Warren Barguil, Romain Bardet and Pierre Rolland….all are gifted climbers and should be involved in the shake-up.
However, there is one rider with a proven Tour record who sits among his higher profile rivals in the upper echelons of the General Classification. At 29 years of age, he should be approaching his peak, (The Wattmeister peaked at 29 and is still there at 56), and his presence seems to have been overlooked.
Robert Gesink finished second to Andy Schleck in 2010, the year in which Alberto Contador’s name has been erased from the record books due to the ‘Beefgate’ doping saga. His career since has experienced many ups and downs, but he has performed tenaciously in the first week and will have the assistance today of Stefan Kruiswijk who showed so strongly in the mountain stages of the Giro d’Italia.
Good luck to them all, and especially to Ivan Basso who has left the Tour to engage in a greater battle with testicular cancer.